Well, I was gonna stay out of it because a) I don't particularly want to see the WA-01 race go negative, and b) God knows I'm not allowed to speak authoritatively about anything regarding anything I've expressed an opinion on, because that would be ABSURD! But now that Josh has chimed in again regurgitating the DelBene party line verbatim, I just have to come to the defense of Darcy Burner, liberal bloggers, and the truth.

Josh writes:

A misleading story about Suzan DelBene is making the rounds (again) on liberal blogs. The claim is that DelBene broke election rules by not filing a personal financial disclosure form in 2011 even though she had spent $5,000, the candidate threshold, and indicated she was a candidate by checking a box on her quarterly report.

First of all, the idea that you can simply dismiss a story as "misleading" just because it is "making the rounds (again) on the liberal blogs" is bullshit, Josh. Dave Neiwert is an award winning investigative journalist and author who spent two decades as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Idaho, Montana, and Washington. He won the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association's 1993 C.B. Blethen Memorial Award for enterprise reporting for his work at the Bellevue Journal American, and received the 2000 National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism for a series on domestic terrorism he produced for MSNBC.com. Probably won other awards too, but I didn't bother to look beyond the top two Google hits.

Neiwert is credible, and his post is the best researched, best sourced, most credible explication of the issue I've read thus far... despite the fact that it appears on a (gasp!) liberal blog. I suggest folks read it, and make up their minds for themselves.

The story is wrong for several reason, which I explained a couple of months ago when the story first ran (in part, because there are exemptions to the threshold, which DelBene met). But here’s the funnier thing: If the story had any veracity, DelBene’s rival, progressive Darcy Burner (the choice candidate of the lefty blogs), would be guilty of the exact same thing.

Burner checked the same box in her 2009 Q1, for example, when she was still closing out her 2008 campaign—and spent $7,645 in net operating expenditures … more than $5,000. (DelBene was doing the same thing in 2011 when she was closing out her 2010 campaign.)

Actually, Josh, you didn't explain it a couple months ago, at least not very clearly, and it does not appear that DelBene met the exemptions you mentioned. But here's the funnier thing: If you'd bothered to fact check the line the DelBene camp fed you, you'd know that no, Burner would not be guilty of the exact same thing. Burner terminated her campaign in the spring of 2009 by filing the required "Termination Report." That meant that officially, Burner was no longer a candidate. That's why she stopped filing quarterly reports.

But DelBene never filed a Termination Report because she never officially closed her campaign! That is the legal distinction that is at the heart of this dispute. Officially (or technically, if you prefer) DelBene remained a candidate, she broke the $5,000 threshold in the first quarter, and she continued to file quarterly reports throughout 2011. Which from my reading of the law, sure does suggest that DelBene was a candidate legally required to file a 2011 Financial Disclosure Statement with the House Clerk. (You know, in the same way that Burner filed her Financial Disclosure Statement in 2007 after choosing not to officially terminate her 2006 campaign.)

But neither Burner nor DelBene is guilty because it’s the only box you can check. DelBene has the same treasurer that Burner had back then, Philip Lloyd.

As the kids would say, Philip Lloyd is the shit at campaign finance compliance. He's killing it. (You know, he's one of the best in the business). But he doesn't file candidates' personal Financial Disclosure Statements. That's not his business. So this effort to conflate the campaign's FEC reports with DelBene's personal financial disclosure statement comes off as obfuscation.

No, I'm not an elections-law attorney, but Adam Bonin is, and here's what he told Neiwert: "By the time Suzan DelBene paid her new finance director over $5000 last fall, she became a federal candidate. Once she did that, she was no longer 'testing the waters,' and had to file her financial disclosure within thirty days."

Folks can argue that the law is vague, or that DelBene's failure to file amounts to a mere technicality, or ha-ha, you can't believe anything you read on the "liberal blogs" (as if most readers don't lump PubliCola into the "liberal blog" category as well). But all that misses the point. The point is, the story is out there, and Republicans are going to use it to pummel DelBene in November should she make it through the primary.

DelBene had a chance to deal with this months ago, but she didn't. Right or wrong she should have filed her 2011 disclosure when the issue was first raised... assuming she really had nothing to hide. And that's a problem that DelBene has created for herself. By failing to file, and then refusing to file once her failure was pointed out, DelBene has created the appearance that she has something to hide, and least enough of an appearance to allow Republicans to make hay of it in November.

And that's particularly a problem for candidate who can't possibly win without blowing away state records for self-funding in a US House campaign.