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Oct. 24, 2021

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County GOP panel fined over campaign finance reporting

Clark County Republican Central Committee agrees to pay $74,725 following complaint

By , Columbian politics reporter

The Clark County Republican Central Committee will pay $74,725 as a result of a complaint made by the Washington Attorney General’s office for failing to report campaign contributions in a timely manner.

The fine could have been much higher, according to the party’s Chair David Gellatly. Gellatly said the total possible fine was $1.9 million.

“I was able to work through this with the AG’s office and come to a reasonable agreement, which includes 50 percent of the fine being suspended and waived after four years, as well as a very reasonable and affordable payment plan,” he said. “The members of the party approved and authorized me to accept the final offer and we will move forward from the damages caused by the past leadership, hopefully for good.”

The complaint originated from a Citizen Action Notice filed with the AGO in September 2017. The attorney general filed the formal complaint in October 2017 for failing to timely report $586,268 in contributions and $463,079 in debts and expenditures dating back to 2012.

Specifically, the committee reported 278 contributions up to 330 days late and 72 expenditures up to 130 days late. For example, more than $176,000 in expenses between 2013 and 2017 were not disclosed before the appropriate elections.

The party faced similar allegations in 2016 when a complaint was filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.

As part of the agreed-upon judgment, the committee will begin paying off $37,362 plus attorney fees and court costs Sept. 1. The party will only pay 50 percent of its net contributions gathered after June 1 minus expenses related to collecting those funds. Payments are due every three months until the balance is paid off.

The second half of the judgment is suspended for four years. If the party violates reporting rules again, the suspended fine will be due within 30 days of discovering the violation.

Gellatly said now that the judgement has been issued, the party can try to move forward.

“Support has been very strong for the party and the current leadership in 2018 and I fully expect this to continue into the future, and thus, pass it on to the next leadership team at the end of the year,” he said. “Throughout all the processes we have had to go through this year, including this fine, it has been a very time-consuming struggle. But I have faith that in the end, what we pass on will be far better than what we were handed, and I hope our party will be united and fully supported again by all the Republicans in Clark County.”

Columbian politics reporter