Complaint filed with state Public Disclosure Commission

BELLINGHAM — Whatcom Democrats on Tuesday, July 30, filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission against Whatcom Republicans, alleging “substantial violations of the reporting rules, involving tens of thousands of dollars.”

Andrew Reding, Democrats’ Whatcom County chair, says his counterpart for the Republicans and also County Council candidate, Kathy Kershner, is “front and center” in the claimed irregularities.

He says more than $33,000 is “murky funds” and raises questions about the Republicans’ required reporting compliance.

Political campaigns and candidates must report their receipts and expenditures periodically to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Whatcom Democrats question whether Republicans’ recent financial disclosures are complete and accurate.

“More than $33,000 in funds appear to have been mismanaged and misreported. The details of the violations are outlined in a formal complaint sent to the PDC by Whatcom Democrats today,” Reding said in a press release.

These issues are claimed:

  • improper, incorrect and misleading reporting of “miscellaneous receipts.” 
  • incomplete and misleading reporting of auction contributions, proceeds and aggregate totals from an April 2019 auction.

A failure to itemize reimbursements, including more than $15,000 in payments to County Council candidate Kathy Kershner. 

“The degree to which the Whatcom Republicans are playing fast and loose with public financial disclosures is frankly shocking,” Reding said. “These laws exist to ensure transparency in our elections, and this shady bookkeeping does the opposite.”

Alleged improper reimbursements involving Kershner are particularly troubling given her role as party chair, Reding said.

More than $15,000 in non-itemized reimbursements Kershner received for “hotel, food/bar/rental” calls into question whether she is improperly and illegally using party funds for her own campaign, Reding claims. At least these reimbursements must be itemized to the PDC. “The public has a right to know where this money came from, and how it is being used,” he said.

Allegations are: 

  •  reporting of individual contributions as “miscellaneous receipts.”
  •  late filing of a C-3 form.
  • that Kershner was reimbursed for party auction expenses without itemizing the vendors or the goods/services provided.

A media spokesperson for the Public Disclosure Commission said on Tuesday that the complaint had been received, but not yet assigned for processing.