Madore spending draws complaint

Democratic Party leader asks state to look into candidate's PAC, websites

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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A complaint alleging Vancouver Republican David Madore has illegally funneled money through his political action committee and improperly used his news website to further his campaign for county commissioner was sent Friday to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

The complaint was filed by Marsha Manning, who serves as treasurer and 3rd Congressional District chairwoman for the Clark County Democrats.

In a written response provided to The Columbian, Madore wrote he has "run a clean above-board campaign that complies with all laws to the best of our knowledge."

Manning also alleged Madore engaged in illegal electioneering by writing in his statement in the voter's pamphlet that people should vote to re-elect Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke and by ordering $6,000 worth of Madore/Mielke signs. Manning said the sign order has not yet been reported to the PDC.

According to Madore, he may consider ordering such signs, but "we have not come close to doing so yet."

Manning wrote that Madore's "illegal contribution to Mr. Mielke's campaign is a thinly veiled attempt to buy a majority in the three-member county commission, which must be brought out into the light and subjected to campaign contribution limits and reporting by both candidates, before illegal signs litter our county landscape."

Madore, owner of U.S. Digital, is challenging Commissioner Marc Boldt, a Hockinson Republican seeking his third term representing District 2. Other candidates challenging Boldt are former Vancouver City Councilor Pat Campbell, an independent, and Camas Democrat Roman Battan.

Mielke, a Battle Ground Republican, is seeking his second term representing District 1. Mielke's challengers are Ridgefield Democrat Joe Tanner, Battle Ground Democrat Ron Barca, Ridgefield Republican Darren Wertz and Battle Ground resident Bob Freund, an independent.

Mielke has not made a public endorsement in the District 2 race.

The top two finishers in the Aug. 7 primary will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

Commissioners earn $102,228 a year and serve four-year terms.

Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Vancouver Democrat, was re-elected in 2010.

Complaint against Gregerson

The complaint filed against Madore was the second complaint filed with the PDC this season against a local candidate.

A complaint was filed by Brush Prairie resident Kelly Hinton against judicial candidate David Gregerson, alleging Gregerson's campaign under-reported contributions. Gregerson has not been asked by the PDC to respond.

Gregerson said Friday that he discussed the complaint with his treasurer and they filed additional paperwork with the PDC to reflect updated coding.

"It's a nonissue," Gregerson said.

Tony Perkins, lead political finance specialist for the PDC, said Friday that the complaint against Madore will be reviewed by the office's compliance division. If it's determined that there are material violations of campaign laws, the PDC will ask Madore to respond.

It typically takes about 10 days before a decision is made whether to open a formal investigation, Perkins said. If the office decides a complaint is without merit, a letter will be sent to the person who filed the complaint with an explanation.

The complaint

In the complaint, Manning alleges that Madore uses his political action committee, Notolls.com, in violation of a state law "preventing candidates from funneling resources into PACs to support their own candidacy. Not only is the fair market value donation of Mr. Madore's physical space, equipment and time to Notolls.com not being reported, he is actively using Notolls.com to tell voters to support his candidacy." Manning included a screen shot from the Notolls.com website.

Madore said that he has personally posted political content on Notolls.com's site but has not moved money into or out of the PAC so far this year, though he may do so later in the campaign season.

Manning also alleged that Madore uses Couv.com, his news website, to illegally further his candidacy. On the website, she wrote in the complaint, "Madore writes articles stating his political positions, conducts interviews to further his political positions and included an article announcing his candidacy for county commissioner (no other candidate was so honored.)"

She said Couv.com employs at least one full-time employee, is run from the offices of U.S. Digital and has "significant expenditures of resources that go well beyond a simple internet site that may not be subject to the same legal prohibitions."

None of the Couv.com-related resources have been reported to the PDC, Manning wrote.

According to the PDC, as of Friday, Madore's campaign has raised $99,692 -- including $90,000 of his own money -- and spent $82,982.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.