CONDON THE OLYMPIAN
Aug. 6, 2002
A former Republican
candidate for attorney general has
petitioned the Public Disclosure Commission
to repeal a rule that could force the
Republican Party to give up $6.6 million in
Richard Pope, who practices law in
Shoreline, wrote in a 23-page letter to PDC
Director Vicki Rippie that the rules in
question are vague and confusing and raise
"The PDC's conclusion is flawed due
to a great many reasons," Pope wrote in
his letter to Rippie.
Under state law, the PDC must respond to
Pope's petition within 60 days. PDC
officials said Monday they'd had little
chance to digest Pope's arguments, but they
refuted his main points.
Last week, the PDC told the state
Republican Party to forfeit to the general
fund $6.6 million in contributions from 2000
and 2001 because the donors -- the
Republican National Committee and two
Republican congressional committees --
failed to properly file the C-5 disclosure
forms required of federal donors to state
campaigns. The PDC gave the party until
Sept. 7 to respond to the request.
Pope, who in 1996 lost a bid for attorney
general to Christine Gregoire, said he is
not acting on behalf of the Republican Party
and did not consult it before filing his
petition. He said the PDC rules as enforced
are unfair to both Democrats and
In his petition, Pope makes two main
points. He argues that the RCW in question,
which requires all "nonreporting
committees" to file C-5s, offers no
definition of what a nonreporting committee
"The statute is so convoluted and
circular that it's hard for anyone to
understand it," Pope said in an
PDC Spokesman Doug Ellis pointed out that
the C-5 requirements have been on the books
for nearly 30 years and have been clearly
laid out in previous enforcement actions.
"It's not like these are just coming up
out of the blue," he said.
Pope's other argument is that requiring
the forfeiture of potentially large sums of
money amounts to an unfair penalty,
potentially violating the Constitution's
equal protection clause. In the case of
other PDC violations, the most the
commission can fine offenders is $2,500.
"That's a drastic distinction,"
The difference, according to PDC
Assistant Director Susan Harris, is that
requiring forfeiture is not a penalty;
rather, it's a remedy for a contribution
made illegal by the donor's failure to
Still, Harris said the PDC will study
Pope's claims within the 60-day time frame.
It could then adopt them in a rule-making
procedure, or give an explanation for why it
chooses to reject them.
Pope said he hopes the Republican Party
will consider his petition as it decides how
to respond to the PDC's request --
especially considering the standoff could
result in legal action between the party and
"I am a Republican, and I'm worried
about the effects this could have on the
party," Pope said. "I do hope the
party looks at what I have to say."