The mission of the Public Disclosure Commission is to provide public access to information about campaign financing, lobbyist expenditures, the financial affairs of public officials and candidates, investigate complaints, and enforce compliance with Washington’s disclosure and campaign finance laws. The values of the PDC include neutrality—fair and impartial advice and enforcement of the state’s disclosure laws.
The director of the PDC, Evelyn Fielding Lopez, has recently been criticized by state Republicans as being biased for Democrats. This is not the first time Mrs. Lopez has been accused of bias. In July of this year, Mrs. Lopez recused herself from a PDC investigation of the Port of Tacoma but only after the Port requested her recusal upon discovering that Mrs. Lopez made comments on social media regarding the Port that appeared to express bias. Now she has been accused of bias in a hotly contested legislative race after she wrote in a letter to a Democratic Senate candidate that Republican accusations in ads against him were “not correct.”
The state Republicans are right. Mrs. Lopez is biased. In 2014, less than a year before she was hired as the PDC’s director, Mrs. Lopez held a campaign fundraiser for a Democratic House candidate. While it is legal to hold a campaign fundraiser, that partisan activity should have disqualified her for the position of the PDC director. There is no question that the PDC director should be unbiased both in practice and perception.
Did the PDC commissioners know of Mrs. Lopez’ partisan activities prior to hiring her? If Mrs. Lopez concealed that information, then she should immediately resign. If the PDC commissioners were aware of her partisan activities, then the legislature should investigate the PDC and use its subpoena powers if necessary. All PDC commissioners are appointed subject to legislative confirmation hearings. Perhaps a confirmation hearing, under oath, is the best way to get the truth of what the PDC commissioners knew.
At a minimum, the legislature should reform the law to preclude the PDC from hiring any person who holds a campaign fundraiser in a partisan election. This PDC’s reputation has been damaged by the bias of its director. It is imperative that the PDC act quickly (before the next legislative session) to remove Mrs. Lopez and restore the public’s trust
Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.” It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people. It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government. It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.” Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed…
(This is a link to the archives that captured Mrs Lopez’s law-firm website before she removed it. It advertised a fundraiser for Demcrat Representative Christine Kilduff in the fall of 2014):