Glen Morgan, a Rochester School Board member and property-rights activist, became interested in campaign finance laws in the fall after local Democrats, including state Rep. Sam Hunt, alleged that he had broken campaign laws.
Morgan said he’s contacted the state about more than 15 alleged campaign violations that he discovered while going through Public Disclosure Commission records from several candidates.
“I’ve just tried to get a little more up to speed, to educate myself in this process,” Morgan said, noting that he plans to file more reports with the state. “… I’m becoming convinced that everybody is in violation of the PDC.”
Two of Morgan’s reports have resulted in formal complaints, but “I’d say some of those (15 alleged violations) are more serious than the ones they’re dealing with right now,” he said.
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The Attorney General’s Office filed one complaint this week against Olympia City Council member Jim Cooper in Thurston County Superior Court.
The complaint alleges that the Democrat and Friends of Jim Cooper, a political committee that campaigned for him in an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Thurston County Commission during November’s election, violated the law by concealing and failing to disclose the identities of contributors to the Thurston County Democratic Central Committee, improperly transferring campaign contributions to another political committee and using campaign money for personal use.
The case involves about $1,300 in campaign contributions, according to the complaint.
“I have been advised by counsel not to comment on this issue until it is resolved,” Cooper told The Olympian on Wednesday.
The state’s action was sparked by a Citizen Action Notice filed by Morgan in October with the Public Disclosure Commission and the AG’s Office.
Morgan, who ran as a Republican in the 2010 county assessor race, led two political committees that campaigned against Cooper’s bid for the Board of County Commissioners. Just days before the election, Morgan received a death threat that was traced to a Democratic Party precinct officer in Olympia after one Morgan PAC sponsored a series of robocalls criticizing Cooper.
The complaint against Morgan said the robocalls went to cellphones, among other allegations.
On Cooper’s side, after state officials reviewed Cooper’s campaign records, it was determined that he used $1,300 in campaign funds to buy 12 tickets to the Thurston County Democratic Central Committee’s Kennedy Dinner in May, according to a news release from the AG’s Office.
Because the ticket price was above the value of the dinner, the ticket price included a contribution to the committee, according to the complaint. Cooper purchased the tickets under his name and then authorized an expenditure of $1,300 from campaign contributions as a reimbursement, an improper use of campaign money, according to the state.
Cooper was given 20 days from the date he was served to respond to the complaint, which seeks penalties that could include legal fees and costs of the investigation and injunctive relief, said Brionna Aho, a spokeswoman for the AG’s Office.
The complaint was filed Monday.
Another tip from Morgan led the Attorney General’s Office to file a separate complaint this week over alleged campaign finance violations by Teresa Purcell, a former legislative candidate for the 19th Legislative District, and her political committee.
That complaint alleges that the Longview Democrat failed to report debts and obligations as they were incurred, and instead filed reports only when the invoices were paid — potentially months late — and also failed to report complete information for 42 contributors.
“There was no ill intention,” Purcell told The Daily News in Longview. She said she wants to honor the laws and hopes to get the case resolved as quickly as possible.
The state’s filings are also part of Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s effort to create election reform by ramping up his agency’s resources for campaign finance casework, according to Aho.
“He’s put more resources into the Campaign Finance Unit,” she said.