Wash. watchdog ends inquiry into political mailers

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington's elections watchdog is ending an investigation into a conservative political group.

Members of the Public Disclosure Commission unanimously agreed Thursday to dismiss complaints against Americans for Prosperity. They had left an investigation open to further examine whether mailers sent before the 2010 election should have been considered political advertising.

PDC staff investigators determined that the mailers did not need to be regulated as political ads because they did not specifically encourage voters to cast a ballot for or against someone. The messages criticized politicians for how they handled various issues, such as taxes.

Democrats have seized on the issue as a threat to the state's campaign finance rules.