PDC complaint filed after independent PAC mailer calls De’Sean Quinn ‘mayor’

CORRECTION: The political action committee that produced the mailer, South King County Working Families PAC, reported the expenditure to the Public Disclosure Commission through its own reporting requirements. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that De'Sean Quinn was required to report the expenditure. He has no connection to the mailer. The Tukwila Reporter apologizes for the error.

This mailing from an independent political action committee incorrectly refers to De'Sean Quinn as mayor of Tukwila. As a result

(CORRECTION: The political action committee that produced the mailer, South King County Working Families PAC, reported the expenditure to the Public Disclosure Commission through its own reporting requirements. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that De’Sean Quinn was required to report the expenditure. He has no connection to the mailer. The Tukwila Reporter apologizes for the error.)

The Washington state Public Disclosure Commission has received a complaint that a political action committee that supports De’Sean Quinn for Tukwila mayor violated campaign laws when it referred to Quinn as mayor in a mailing.

The complaint was filed by Dennis Robertson, who is the treasurer for Allan Ekberg’s campaign for mayor, after he received the mailer last weekend. Quinn and Ekberg are currently members of the Tukwila City Council, as is Robertson.

The mailer reads in part: “Tukwila Mayor De’Sean Quinn has a proven track record of promoting our local economy.”

The mailer was paid for by the South King County Working Families PAC, whose contributors include unions that have contributed directly to Quinn’s campaign.

“I have reported the violation to the state PDC; but that won’t change anything in time to deal with the impact the falsehood will have on potentially uninformed voters who often vote for the incumbent,” said Robertson.

“It is a sad thing to see happen in Tukwila elections that have historically been so straight-laced,” Robertson said, and “especially sad” that the mailing was done by what he described as an “outsider” organization.

Political action committees operate independently of a candidate’s campaign. The mailer, produced by Moxie Media of Seattle, indicates it wasn’t authorized by a candidate.

The political action committee  was required to report the expenditure in its PDC reports; the mailer’s cost, including postage, was $3,757. (An earlier version of the story incorrectly reported that Quinn had to report the expenditure.)

Quinn said he first saw the mailer when he returned from a trip on Sunday. He said he has made a commitment to follow public-disclosure laws in his campaign.

“They made a mistake. I am not happy about it. It’s an oversight on their part,” Quinn said, adding that all he can do is to continue talking about his commitment to middle-class values and to Tukwila.

He pointed out that unions interview candidates for office, supporting them based on “working relationships and how candidates respond to issues raised in those interviews.”

Raised in a working-class family, Quinn said he has “a lot of respect for unions. I have a lot of respect for working-class people and jobs.”

Adam Glickman, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union, one of the contributors to the PAC, said referring to Quinn as the mayor was a mistake, which was missed by a “bunch of people” who looked at the campaign mailer before it was distributed.

The error wasn’t noticed until the PAC was contacted by the Tukwila Reporter.

“We apologize. This is not De’Sean’s fault,” Glickman said.

A check of the PAC’s website and digital ads showed no other such reference, he said.

“The good news is we only made the mistake once,” he said.

As of Tuesday morning, the Public Disclosure Commission had yet to post the complaint. The PDC is implementing a new complaint-management system.

Robertson said his complaint refers to RCW 42.17A.335 (1)(b) “Political advertising or an electioneering communication that falsely represents that a candidate is the incumbent for the office sought when in fact the candidate is not the incumbent.”

It is one of the subsections to this general statement: “It is a violation of this chapter for a person to sponsor with actual malice a statement constituting libel or defamation per se under the following circumstances.”

Ekberg said the mailing’s reference to Quinn as mayor is “an obvious blatant lie purposely done. It reeks of regional special interests trying to buy an election. Tukwila deserves more.”

Ekberg’s campaign is mostly self-funded, which includes $10,500 in personal loans to his campaign.

In response, Quinn said he’s had “a great opportunity” to work with different organizations and individuals and their support “reflects their confidence in me that I am a leader” and he’s someone who is committed, thoughtful and knows the issues.

What he describes as “this nonsense” about outside contributions and what they say about him “is just flatly untrue” and it doesn’t “fit with Tukwila’s values.”

[flipp]

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