The state’s elections watchdog has penalized the commissioner of a Clark County fire district who for multiple years has failed to file a document that outlines his personal financial affairs and potential conflicts of interest.
On Thursday, the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission voted 3-0 to accept a staff recommendation to find that Danny Walling, a Clark County Fire Protection District 10 commissioner, violated state law by not filing an annual Personal Financial Affairs Statement and to penalize him $1,000.
Under state law, elected officials are required to file the statements each year.
The statements broadly describe the official’s source of income, debts and property owned.
Copies of the statements can be requested by the public and they’re intended to reveal any conflicts of interest a candidate may have.
According to PDC spokeswoman Kim Bradford, Walling was previously fined for failing to his financial disclosure forms in 2014 and 2015.
“Those fines, as well as the (statements), remain outstanding,” wrote Bradford in an email. “The last (statement) Mr. Walling filed was in August 2011 when he was running for office.”
Walling did not respond to repeated requests for comment. He was last elected in 2011 with 70 percent of 1,750 votes cast.
According to the county’s website, there are seven fire districts in Clark County (voters have previously opted merge districts). Each is overseen by a board of commissioners, each elected to a six-year term, that craft rules and regulations, purchase land and equipment, as well as hire employees. The website for Fire District 10 states that it only has two full-time staff members and relies heavily on volunteers.
Fire District 10 covers about 64 square miles in northern Clark County and is home to more than 8,000 people, according to The Columbian archives.
In 2016, the district responded to 728 service calls and 731 in 2015. Earlier this year, voters in the district approved a property tax levy increase from 68 cents to $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value, all to pay for additional staffing.
According to a PDC staff report, Walling was first elected to the position in 2005 and filed financial affairs statements on time from 2005 through 2009.
The report states that previously he failed to file a statement covering 2011. He also failed to file statements covering 2014 and 2015, which resulted in penalties totaling $800, according to the report. Walling has not paid the penalties and they’ve been referred to a collections agency, according to the report.
Over the summer, Walling didn’t respond after being contacted by the PDC informing him that a hearing had been scheduled over his failure to file his 2016 statement, according to the report.
Walling could soon have new problems with the PDC. According to Bradford, Walling is running for re-election and will appear on the November ballot. She wrote that because the district now has more than 5,000 voters, Walling is required to file a candidate registration with the PDC. However, she wrote that he has not filed registration and could be subject to future enforcement action.