Committee fails to file PDC forms on time

A local committee supporting the proposed Tahoma levies is behind on filing necessary finance reports.

The committee that is supporting the upcoming Tahoma School District levies has been actively campaigning, but have failed to show the money trail.

The Voice of Tahoma Education (VOTE) did not file the necessary financial reports with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on time this election year.

VOTE is a political action committee that raises and spends money to support levies proposed by the Tahoma School District. VOTE is not affiliated with the school district.

These levies include one bus levy and two replacement levies— educational programs and operations levy and a technology levy — according to the Tahoma School District website.

For all three levies, it is estimated to cost tax payers $2.03 per $1,000 in 2019, according to a press release by the district.

VOTE’s chair, Angela Stewart, said it did not file with the PDC because they did not know it was a requirement.

“So I am brand new to this, I’m a parent-volunteer, I’ve never been on a political action committee and I’ve never headed one and we have three new rotating members since the last time I did this, and I just was not aware of the process,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Political committees like VOTE are required to register either as full reporting or mini reporting.

According to the PDC website, full reporting is when political committees raise and spend more than $5,000, or for committees that want to receive more than $500 from any contributor. Full reporting filers need to submit frequent and detailed reports of any contributions they receive (C-3 reports) and expenditures (C-4 forms).

Mini reporting is an option when continuing political committees raise and spend no more than $5,000 and will not receive more than $500 from one contributor.

For the 2018 election year, the PDC deadline to get a 21-day pre-election report detailing receipts and expenditures— i.e C-4 forms between Dec. 1 and Jan. 22 — was Jan. 23, a deadline that VOTE has missed, according to a PDC spokesperson, Kim Bradford.

Bradford said the next deadline for C-4 reports was Feb. 6. This deadline was for a seven-day pre-election report.

If VOTE was getting contributions beginning in October 2017, it was required to submit contribution forms (C-3 reports) weekly, Bradford said.

An official complaint was filed to the PDC on Jan. 18 to report a “violation of RCW 42.17A.235 for failing to file contribution and expenditure reports to disclose signs, billboards, and additional campaign activity relating to school levy campaigns.”

Violation RCW 42.17A.235 is when there is a failure to report political committee’s expenditures and contributions to the proper location, i.e the PDC, according to the Washington Legislature website.

Shortly after the official complaint was filed on Jan. 18, VOTE responded to the PDC on Jan. 30.

“Our committee agrees that we have failed to file timely reports and we are prepared to begin immediate filings in order to comply with the reporting requirements,” the formal complaint response from VOTE said.

VOTE has started to submit its missing C-3 and C-4 forms on Feb. 1, with reports dating back to 2014 and 2015.

As of Tuesday, reports from 2016 to 2018 were not filed.

Since VOTE has been a political action committee since 2014, and have been getting contributions since then, VOTE must file all of the forms from previous years, according to Stewart.

Stewart said VOTE has set a goal to complete reports from previous years by the weekend of Feb. 10 and to have the current 2018 reports completed by next week.

VOTE has indicated who the contributors to their campaign are on the C-3 forms, but most of their contributors have been listed under the same three addresses — 26828 Maple Valley-Black Maple Valley, 29720 MV-BD RD MAPLE VALLEY, WA 98038 and 25720 Maple Valley Black Diamond Road S.E. Two of the three listed addresses are locations in Four Corners.

According to the PDC website, C-3 forms must include the contributors names and addresses.

By not having each person’s residential address, VOTE has not met the legal requirements of the PDC, according to Bradford.

Stewart said that she and the person filing the reports, Sarah Gilbert, the treasurer of VOTE, were not aware they were not meeting legal requirements. She said these payments were listed under the same address because they were payroll deductions.

“They (the contributors) have the money taken directly out of their paycheck to go into any type of things the choose, so because it came from the school district she (Gilbert) figured she could do it out of payroll,” Stewart said. “If that’s the case then we’ll fix that just as we’ve been fixing everything else as we go.”

Bradford said if VOTE does not meet these deadlines there will not be any immediate repercussions.

VOTE missed the Tuesday, seven-day pre-election report deadline.

“This is an honest mistake, and it’s mine,” Stewart said.

“I have never done this before, we’re working very diligently to get this all done on time. If I am chair of the campaign again in four years, I know this won’t happen again. The point of this levy is to help kids and get these levies passed for our teachers and kids.”

Ballots for this month’s special elections are due 8 p.m. Feb. 13.

Sarah Brenden contributed to this article.