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UPDATE: State Auditor-elect Troy Kelley fined; PDC sees ‘relatively minor’ violations

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Dec. 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
December 7, 2012 7:41 am

UPDATE, 12/6: Kelley was fined $200 today, with half of the fine suspended if he commits no more violations over the next four years. UPDATE 12/6 2 p.m.: The PDC voted to drop the rest of the allegations.

ORIGINAL POST FROM 12/3:

As Troy Kelley gets ready to take office as auditor, the chairman of the state Public Disclosure Commission will decide at a hearing Thursday if the Tacoma state lawmaker should be fined for leaving information out when he disclosed his finances to the public.

Years after he filed the original disclosure forms, Kelley sent the PDC revised forms last month. PDC staff concluded he violated the law by not filing them sooner, and scheduled his case for what’s known as a “brief enforcement hearing” presided over by Chairman Amit Ranade, who has authority to fine him up to $500.

“The brief hearings are used when the allegations are relatively minor and there’s no dispute as to the facts,” PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said.

Most of the information investigators say was omitted about Kelley’s mortgage document-tracking company United National was available in previous disclosures by Kelley for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Investigators concluded he should have disclosed them again for 2008, even though he had closed the firm midway through the year. Investigators also said he should have noted in later forms that he had dissolved the company. Instead he reported his finances as unchanged – essentially overstating his income in 2009, 2010 and 2011, investigators said.

Kelley couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

A state Republican Party complaint during the auditor campaign triggered the probe of Kelley, a Democrat. Several of the party’s allegations didn’t yield any findings of wrongdoing. Investigators didn’t find evidence Kelley was in the insurance business, for example, as Republicans alleged but Kelley denied. He registered such trade names for his company as “United National Insurance Services” but says he never used those names.

The GOP also argued Kelley should have disclosed an entity known as Wellington Trust that operated a bank account in Belize, but Kelley wrote in a letter to the PDC that while he did indirectly own the trust, its account held only the minimum required balance, which fell well below a $7,500 reporting threshold. (The account was linked to a U.S. account containing millions of dollars, but that money apparently was never transferred.) He also said, however, that the trust owned part of another of his companies, Berkeley United.

PDC investigators also looked into a complaint against Kelley’s GOP opponent, James Watkins, but recommended the commission dismiss the allegations Thursday, writing that Watkins “immediately” provided information about his mutual funds that had been “inadvertently” missing from his disclosure forms for 2011.

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