Despite election loss, Wales still under investigation
During her 2017 Mayoral campaign, Councilmember Largo Wales received two Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) complaints. She also had a Citizen Complaint filed against her with the Attorney General’s office. Despite losing the election in November to incumbent Mayor, Nancy Backus, Wales remains under investigation.
The first complaint against the Wales campaign was filed July 17, 2017, with the PDC. The complaint alleged that the Wales campaign was not filing the required weekly reports and had omitted items on their C4 expense reports. On August 10, 2017 the PDC opened an investigation into the Wales campaign’s alleged violation of RCW 42.17A.235 and RCW 42.17A.240.
On August 18, 2017, CM Wales responded to the complaint stating, “I have checked with my campaign treasurer and she reports that all monthly reports have been submitted and confirmation has been received from PDC. Expenditures for the one mailing and TV commercials were paid for by candidate from her personal money.”
A second complaint against the Wales campaign was filed with the PDC on October 23, 2017. This complaint is considered a secondary complaint and will be added to the July 17th complaint. PDC Investigator Micaiah Ragins confirmed the complaint was received.
Ragins shared that currently, the PDC has a sizable backlog in their investigations. This backlog stems from the number of complaints filed during the election season. Some investigations may take longer than they may normally have due to this backlog. Ragins explained this is also the cause for the second complaint against Wales campaign not yet been uploaded onto the PDC website.
A citizen complaint was filed with the Attorney General’s (AG) office concurrently with the second PDC complaint. Formal confirmation of the receipt of the complaint was sent from the Campaign Finance Unit on November 2, 2017.
Wales Obtains a Lawyer
CM Wales obtained legal representation with Auburn-based lawyer John Torres, Jr of Auburn Law Offices, PLLC. Torres is known in the area for his false-start campaign in 2014 for King County District Court judge, Position 5, Southeast Division.
In Torres’ letter, he reiterates Wales’ original response from the first PDC complaint: CM Wales self-funded her campaign and therefore did not need to report. This is incorrect. Regardless of the source, any money spent on a campaign must be reported.
Torres goes on to state that as Wales lost the election the PDC has the authority to waive the penalty for any violations. The letter states that “without admitting guilt” CM Wales requests penalties be waived.
Tony Perkins, the Attorney General Campaign Finance Unit Investigator assigned to the Wales campaign complaint, confirmed that the complaint remains under investigation. As with the PDC, he confirmed the AG’s office also has a high volume of complaints and investigations.
There is no expected timeline or completion date for these investigations. The PDC and AG’s office have confirmed that their investigations will continue regardless of Wales’ election loss. Some of Wales’ recent actions raise the question: are these investigations impacting Wales’ ability to perform her duties as City Councilmember?
Full Disclosure: The Auburn Examiner’s Editor in Chief Elizabeth Miller is one of the two individuals who filed complaints against CM Wales during her campaign. The Auburn Examiner has no part of these investigations. The Auburn Examiner is independent of these investigations. The reporting of these on-going investigations are not intended to further any agenda, but to provide information relevant to the City of Auburn.