PDC: Madore, NoTolls.com didn’t violate campaign finance laws

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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The state Public Disclosure Commission has declined to formally investigate a Vancouver man’s allegations against David Madore and his political action committee, NoTolls.com, in the run-up to last November’s election.

In a letter dated March 17, the commission informed Alexander Stone that it found no evidence of campaign finance violation or of any other alleged wrongdoing by Madore or his PAC before the November 2010 election.

Madore, owner of U.S. Digital in east Vancouver, and NoTolls.com gave $173,715 in direct and in-kind contributions to 10 Republican and nonpartisan candidates last year.

Stone had written the Public Disclosure Commission on Oct. 21 with two specific complaints.

Stone alleged that because Madore is both treasurer and main contributor to NoTolls.com, he and his PAC are the “same entity,” meaning Madore had exceeded his individual contribution limits in at least four local races.

Stone also wrote that it did not appear that the NoTolls.com PAC had enough donors to legally donate to state legislative candidates under state law.

In a two-page letter, PDC Interim Executive Director Doug Ellis wrote that Madore named 10 registered Washington voters who gave $10 or more to NoTolls.com, meeting the minimum requirement for a PAC to give money to state candidates.

Ellis also wrote that because Madore was not the only contributor to NoTolls.com, he and his PAC each have a separate $800 contribution limit to candidates.

Over the phone, Stone had also claimed that Madore was concealing financing of his political activities through the use of NoTolls.com.

Madore, as chief executive officer and owner of U.S. Digital, gave more than $160,000 in direct and in-kind contributions with his own money, and U.S. Digital also supplied $13,715 in in-kind contributions.

“It was clear that Mr. Madore was the primary contributor to NoTolls.com and that he was using his personal funds,” Ellis wrote. “The interactions between NoTolls.com and Mr. Madore make it clear that Mr. Madore and U.S. Digital played a significant role in contributing to NoTolls.com. Thus no evidence of concealment was found.”

Madore said Wednesday that “I’m happy to see there was nothing to it.”

He said he intends to use his personal money to fund NoTolls.com, and that the political action committee will become active again for this fall’s election.

“If you ask if I’m going to stay permanently involved in issues to our community, absolutely,” he said.

Stone said he was unsure what phone conversation the letter referred to, but said it looked as if the state campaign laws were applied fairly. However, he maintained that Madore and his PAC violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.

“If the people of WA State are satisfied with election finance laws that allow someone to use a PAC in this fashion — then we will receive the best government and local leadership that money can buy,” he wrote in an email Wednesday. “As for Mr. Madore, I’m confident that his actions and statements of the past year clearly indicate his personal motivations and political intentions.”

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542, andrea.damewood@columbian.com.