Rob McKenna (R)
John Ladenburg (D)
OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-State elections officials in Washington have dismissed a complaint against Attorney General Rob McKenna over public service announcements featuring the Republican.
The Democratic Party had filed a complaint in July with the state Public Disclosure Commission, charging that radio and TV spots featuring the AG were illegal campaign ads because they were bankrolled by corporations.
In the complaint, Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said McKenna and the three organizations paying for the ads should have to disclose the value of the ads as campaign contributions.
The Public Disclosure Commission on Friday rejected the complaint, ruling that McKenna had not violated state election rules.
"Historically, the Washington (Attorney General's Office) has promoted a variety of public education messages as part of its consumer-protection function. During the tenures of at least the last three state attorneys general, the AGO has focused on topics such as Internet security, identity theft, bullying, teen violence, elder abuse, investment scams, tobacco use and the Lemon Law," PDC executive director Vicki Rippie wrote to Pelz.
Washington law says PSAs are not considered campaigning if a candidate's appearance is arranged "at least six months before the candidate became a candidate."
The PDC concluded McKenna became a candidate June 4, 2008, when he filed his declaration of candidacy with the secretary of state, and the ads were arranged before the six-month period, officials said.
McKenna is being challenged be Democrat John Ladenburg, the Pierce County executive who has accused him of using the attorney general's office to boost his public profile.
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.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.