The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) is often put in a difficult position, charged with determining violations of sometimes-arcane (if not downright confusing) elections law, occasionally in a short amount of time. Perhaps that is why Sound Transit – and Attorney General Bob Ferguson – got the very good news that the PDC would not be recommending punishment of the Sound Transit, as had been suggested by staff just last week.
Instead, in a stunning reversal, at a public meeting staff recommended to the PDC Commissioners that they not ask the Attorney General to look into potential wrongdoing, which a staff member who missed yesterday’s meeting had described last Friday as “an‘apparent violation’ of the state law that prohibits public agencies from using public resources to assist a political campaign.” This week that “apparent violation” was described, by the PDC chair, as “mistakes are made during the regular course of business.”
That left Sound Transit’s lawyer with the easy task of agreeing with the prosecution. According to the Times, “Sound Transit legal counsel Desmond Brown, who came to Thursday’s hearing prepared to dispute the PDC’s original findings, instead told commissioners: ‘I have a slightly different presentation than I had planned to make. We concur with (PDC staffer) Mr. Young’s assessment of the situation.’”
It also left the person who made the complaint against Sound Transit somewhat confused about next steps’. “(Conner) Edwards, a Tacoma political consultant, said he’s unsure he’ll pursue the matter in light of Thursday’s ruling. ‘I am going to have to re-evaluate,’ he said.”
One person certainly not confused by the decision – but cheering instead – is AG Ferguson. Now he does not have to pursue a case against a liberal favorite like Sound Transit, which would not have helped his likely run for governor in four years. Instead, he can simply concur with the PDC recommendation and finish letting Sound Transit off the hook.