Democrats file ethics complaint against Washington AG

By Chris Rizo | Jul 21, 2008

John Ladenburg (D)

Rob McKenna (R)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-The Washington state Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the state's elections watchdog over public service announcements featuring Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The complaint against the Republican attorney general was filed Monday with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

McKenna is being challenged be Democrat John Ladenburg, the Pierce County executive who has criticized McKenna of using the attorney general's office to boost his public profile.

The Democratic Party-and Ladenburg-claim that the PSAs featuring McKenna are more like industry-sponsored political ads than pubic service announcements.

In a statement, Ladenburg cited a 30-second commercial featuring McKenna and McGruff the Crime Dog discussing identity theft. The ad, paid for by Comcast Cable, "coincidentally" highlights one of the most prominent themes in McKenna's voter guide statement and campaign materials.

"These are not Public Service Announcements," Ladenburg said. "They are corporate sponsored campaign ads trying to help cover up McKenna's failure to address the epidemic of identity theft. This is a clear and illegal use of public office for political campaigning, and a clear violation of Public Disclosure laws."

Ladenburg has said if elected he will propose legislation that places a ban on the appearances of an elected official's name, image or title on public service announcements and privately sponsored advertising during an election year.

"The moment candidates can start raising money after the fundraising freeze in an election year, they need to be open and honest about their contributors, not hiding illegal donations masked as public service ads," Ladenburg said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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