OLYMPIA —The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced that Representative Frank Chopp will pay $6,469.78 over campaign finance allegations brought by the office. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has recused himself from any involvement in the matter.
Chopp’s campaign failed to timely disclose contributions and expenditures, including debt, and failed to timely return over-limit contributions.
Chopp will pay $3,480 in penalties with one-half of the penalty suspended for four years contingent on no violations by Chopp during that period, as well as $4,729.78 in attorneys fees, court costs and costs of investigation.
In December 2016, the AGO received a Citizen Action Notice alleging multiple violations of the state’s public disclosure laws by Chopp.
A review by AGO staff determined that Chopp and his committee, Citizens for Frank Chopp, were 28 days late in reporting $6,722 in expenditures in March of 2015, and 14 days late in disclosing $5,150 in contributions in November 2016, one day before the general election. Staff also determined Chopp’s campaign was eight days late in returning an over-limit contribution last November, and that travel and campaign debt were not timely disclosed during the course of the 2016 election campaign.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton and Assistant Attorney General Walter Smith handled the case.
When the Attorney General’s Office receives a Citizen Action Notice, it has 45 days to investigate and respond to the citizen. If the Attorney General’s Office or local prosecutor does not start litigation, the individual may sue in the name of the state. If litigation is successful, any penalties awarded would go to the state, and the individual’s attorney could recover attorney fees and costs.
The Attorney General’s Office enforces the state’s campaign finance disclosure law to ensure free, open and fair elections in Washington state. Since becoming Attorney General, Attorney General Ferguson has devoted more agency resources to campaign finance casework.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.