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Election: Three city council-related complaints filed with state Public Disclosure Commission

A trio of cases related to the Mercer Island City Council elections are currently on the docket of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

• In one case under review, Seth D. Landau filed a complaint with the PDC against Brent Horschman and the Mercer Island Professional Firefighters for starting “a nonprofit for the sole purpose of collecting money anonymously and giving it to three candidates for the Mercer Island City Council. He did this using the address of the M.I. main fire station and fire station itself to run this nonprofit,” reads the complaint, in part, on the PDC website.

The candidates listed in the full-page advertisement Landau purchased in the Reporter that ran on Oct. 20 are Kate Akyuz, Daniel Becker and Ted Weinberg.

Landau said in his complaint that the situation has caused Islanders to believe all the fire department personnel support the three candidates — whose signs say “Supported by Mercer Island Professional Firefighters” — and that it could change the course of the election.

Members of the Mercer Island Firefighters, IAFF Local 1762 — which is registered on the PDC site and lists Horschman as its treasurer — said its union represents the 29 professional firefighters of the Mercer Island Fire Department and is affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Washington State Council of Firefighters, and the AFL-CIO.

In a letter to the Reporter, the firefighters said that they endorse Akyuz, Weinberg and Becker and said the accusations against them are false.

The letter also said: “As part of our continuing commitment to this community, in addition to our written endorsement of these candidates, our members also elected to contribute financially to the campaigns of all three candidates. Transparency is essential when participating in democracy, and all our information regarding how we participate and fund our election work is available on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission website.”

Akyuz noted, “Mr. Landau’s allegations are unsubstantiated as the firefighters voted unanimously to donate legally collected union dues to my campaign and their right to use municipal facilities for union business has been negotiated into their contract with the City.”

Weinberg said he is proud to have the support of the Mercer Island firefighters and is a strong supporter of a locally controlled fire department.

“At its meeting on August 2, 2021, the union representing the Mercer Island firefighters, of which all 29 firefighters are members, unanimously passed a motion to endorse my campaign and authorize a $1,000 contribution from the union,” he said.

According to Becker, his campaign reported the contribution in question accurately and legally and will continue following all laws.

“The allegations are only against the Firefighter Union itself, and neither the accuser nor the campaigns have all the information needed to assess the accuracy of these claims. The allegations should be investigated via the PDC’s established procedure, and I do not believe it is helpful for anyone to speculate outside of due process,” he added.

• In one case under investigation by the PDC, according to its site, Richard Erwin Jr. has issued a complaint against council candidate Lisa Anderl as an alleged violation “for failure to report complete address information for donors giving more than $100 in the aggregate and RCW 42.17A.405(14) for accepting over limit contributions (EY19; Jul 21).”

In a letter to the PDC, which is included on its site, Erwin Jr. notes the excess contributions came from Mercer Islanders for Sustainable Spending (MISS), “a political action committee run by her own campaign’s treasurer, Mike Cero.”

Anderl replied to the PDC: “With this note I confirm that in my 2019 campaign my treasurer Mike Cero performed ministerial duties in his role and was specifically not involved in strategic planning for my campaign.”

Anderl also said that 13 C-3 reports had been updated to include the contributor’s street number.

In a response to the PDC, Anderl said, “My treasurer stated that ‘the PDC description for entering contributor information is very specific, ie., Prefix, First Name, Middle, Last Name, Suffix, City, State Zip etc. Using this logic, the PDC does not call out ‘number and street’ or does not call out ‘address’ but calls out ‘street.’ Words have meaning and ‘street’ is what I provided. I’m sorry for the trouble this has caused you.”

• In another case under review on the PDC site, Erwin Jr. filed an additional complaint against Anderl for “failing to timely and accurately disclose contribution and expenditure activities undertaken by the 2019 and 2021 campaigns for the Mercer Island City Council.”

According to part of the complaint for the 2021 campaign, “Friends of Lisa Anderl failed to file four C-3 reports within seven days of the deposit for fourteen contributions totaling $4,900 that are required by law.” Contributions ranged from $100 to $1,000.

Anderl replied to this complaint in a document on the PDC website, “In essence, what happened is that my treasurer misunderstood a technical aspect of the C-3 filing process, not realizing that the C-3 filings were not aggregated into one report, thereby leaving some in draft form but unfiled. This was only evident if you scrolled up or down, but he had no reason to think that he needed to do that. Upon realizing this, he immediately notified me and notified the PDC. The PDC corresponded with him and he immediately corrected the issue. This was an inadvertent error and we apologize.”

To view more details on these cases, visit https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/cases


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