Conservative group Americans for Prosperity-Washington didn’t run afoul of Washington election law, the staff of the state’s campaign watchdog agency has determined.
The group led by Kirby Wilbur, now chairman of the state Republican Party, attacked incumbent Democratic state lawmakers in ads and mailers and didn’t report the spending to the Public Disclosure Commission until after the November 2010 election.
Democrats complained, especially because they saw it as similar to campaign attacks on Republicans by liberal and labor groups using a Democratic consultant, Moxie Media, which has come under scrutiny for misleading voters.
But the PDC staff determined the Americans for Prosperity-Washington spending was not required to be reported because the group didn’t spent more than $5,000 on “electioneering communications” against any one candidate in what staff says was a $31,900 campaign. Mailers hitting Sen. Tracey Eide of Federal Way cost $2,425 and those attacking Rep. Tami Green of Lakewood cost $3,616, for example.
Doing those ads without reporting them would be illegal this year, under a law passed last winter lowering the reporting threshold to $1,000.
But that wasn’t the law last year. The commission’s staff is recommending that it dismiss the case at its meeting next week.
It took the PDC about a year to make that call. Investigators said they had to hand out subpoenas to Americans for Prosperity in April to get the records they needed, and received those records in September.