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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Ahead of possible rule change, AG Bob Ferguson moves $1.2M ‘surplus’ to gubernatorial campaign


SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson has shifted more than $1.2 million in surplus campaign funds to his 2024 gubernatorial bid — getting ahead of possible rule changes cracking down on such transfers.

The transfers, disclosed in new filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission, represent the bulk of the nearly $2 million already raised by Ferguson as he seeks to establish himself as the clear Democratic front-runner in the race to succeed Gov. Jay Inslee.

The moves come as the PDC is scheduled to meet Thursday morning for a special meeting to discuss whether to impose more restrictions on the transfers, sought by transparency advocates who say such maneuvers violate the spirit of Washington’s campaign-finance laws.

The PDC’s current rules allow candidates who have amassed unspent funds from past campaigns to move the money, with donor permission, to a race for a different office.

But candidates don’t have to disclose which donors gave permission, and are allowed to hit up the same people for new donations, a loophole that critics say undermines the state’s contribution limits.

Ferguson, the three-term attorney general who has long eyed the governor’s office, built up a $2.8 million surplus during his reelection campaigns — cash that he is rapidly using to give himself a big early advantage in the 2024 governor’s race.

The transfers began on April 24, more than a week before Ferguson announced his candidacy for governor, the PDC filings show, suggesting he may have had advance knowledge of Inslee’s decision not to seek a fourth term.

Ferguson’s chief Democratic rival, state lands commissioner Hilary Franz, is supporting a change in the surplus rules to limit such transfers and require more donor disclosures.

Franz, who announced her own gubernatorial bid Wednesday, has a surplus fund of about $29,000.

The PDC is scheduled to discuss possible surplus fund changes at a meeting starting at 9:30 a.m. The session will be streamed live on TVW.