By Doug Petrowski
As the final tally for the April 23 special election was being certified by the county, questions were being raised concerning the reporting of one donation to the YES for MLT Committee during the last campaign cycle.
The Snohomish County Elections Division officially certified the vote count for Mountlake Terrace Proposition 1 as 2,335 (53.4%) voting “yes” and 2,038 (46.6%) voting “no.” The municipal bond measure was defeated as it required a 60-percent yes vote for voter approval.
Meanwhile, representatives from the Mountlake Terrace Nile Shriners and the YES for MLT Committee acknowledge an error was made in the reporting of a $500 contribution to the political group that campaigned for passage of Proposition #1.The donation is listed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) as a $500 donation from the “Nile County Club” on April 8.
“That was a mistake,” said Mountlake Terrace Nile Shriner Treasurer Dave Ramich.
The only charitable giving that the Mountlake Terrace Nile Shriners do is to the Nile International organization that operates the group’s hospitals worldwide, Ramich said.
The $500 was the amount collected from a March 16 fundraising event put on by the YES for MLT Committee at the Nile Country Club and Golf Course, said Mayor Jerry Smith.
Money collected at the event was delivered to the YES for MLT committee in the form of a check, Smith explained. “But as it came in, it came in as a check from the Nile (caterers), because they collected the door money, then gave us the money.”
“Cheryl Heppner (YES for MLT Committee treasurer) reported to the PDC that $500 came in from the Nile; we all knew what it was, but nobody else did,” Smith added.
Tony Perkins, Lead Political Finance Specialist for the state’s PDC, wasn’t familiar with the YES for MLT Committee reporting error, but has seen errors made in by plenty of groups in the past. He also recognized that errors can be made easily. “They may have come very close to reporting it correctly,” he said, adding, “They should correct their report as soon as possible.”
As for the Citizens Against Prop 1 political organization, they too were registered with the state Public Disclosure Commission, but didn’t report any contributions nor expenditures because they didn’t have to. The group filed under the “mini-reporting” category, which allows groups that do not collect more than $5,000 nor receive a donation of more than $500 from any one contributor to refrain from reporting it’s specific numbers.
Margaret Loiseau, spokesperson for the Citizens Against Prop 1, said the group was well below the thresholds of the mini-reporting requirements, stating the amount of money raised wasn’t even half of the $5,000 limit. “And we didn’t get any donations of more than $100 from any individual,” she added.
Political groups filing under the mini-reporting option are required to open their financial books to anyone requesting to see them during a period of eight days before the election up to Election Day.