Washington State Rep. Strom Peterson (D-21st District) has acknowledged campaign filing violations that led to a complaint issued last week by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Peterson said that his campaign committee, Friends of Strom Peterson, has accounted for all of the donations and expenditures listed in the complaint. Corrections to many of the items were made through amended reports filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) prior to when the complaint was actually filed, he added.
“I take full responsibility for this,” Peterson said in a phone interview from Olympia April 13. “But it’s important to be clear that every dollar that came into and went out of the (campaign) committee has been fully accounted for.”
In February 2017, the State Attorney General’s Office received a Citizen Action Notice from Glen Morgan, alleging multiple violations of the state’s public disclosure laws by Peterson during his 2016 campaign. The Attorney General’s Office enforces the state’s campaign finance disclosure law.
On April 10, the office issued a news release announcing that following an investigation, it was filing complaints against Peterson as well as 42nd Legislative District representative Sharlaine LaClair and state Representative Jeff Morris. LaClair and Morris were also the subject of Citizen Action Notices from Glen Morgan, a Thurston County property rights activist who is known for filing PDC complaints against Democrats, Peterson said.
According to the news release, a review by Attorney General’s Office staff determined that Peterson failed to provide a detailed description of $3,255.97 in expenses (including the vendors used by his campaign consultant), failed to disclose over $2,048 in campaign debt, and failed to timely disclose at least $13,522 in expenditures and in-kind contributions. The late disclosures were between six and 31 days late, and primarily related to post-election surplus fund transfers, the release said.
The state seeks penalties and injunctive relief. The defendants will have 20 days from the date they are served to respond to the state’s complaints.
“I take this citizen complaint very seriously and will work with the Attorney General’s Office to answer any questions,” said Peterson, a second-term state representative and former Edmonds City Councilmember who owns the Cheesemonger’s Table in downtown Edmonds.