OLYMPIA-The Washington Supreme Court today upheld the state’s definition of a “political committee,” ruling that the Seattle-based Voters Education Committee (VEC) was in fact required to register with the Public Disclosure Commission and to disclose the source of its $1.5 million advertising campaign during the 2004 primary election race for attorney general.
In September 2004, the state Public Disclosure Commission found that the VEC had committed apparent violations of state law based on the VEC's refusal to register as a political committee or disclose the source of its money to the public. The PDC referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office for court action.
King County Superior Court Judge Richard Jones ruled in favor of the PDC on Aug. 15, 2005, the VEC appealed and the Supreme Court heard the appeal on May 25, 2006.
In the case on appeal, the VEC argued that the state definition of a political committee was unconstitutionally vague.
In a 7-2 decision today, the Supreme Court disagreed and determined that the state disclosure requirements did not “unconstitutionally burden VEC’s speech.” According to the majority opinion, “the people have declared that it is the policy of the state of Washington that groups who sponsor political advertising must disclose their identities, contributions and expenditures.”
"I commend the Public Disclosure Commission and the excellent assistant attorneys general who argued this case for fighting to uphold the will of the people to ensure clean and transparent elections in Washington state,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Now that the state Supreme Court has decided the legal issue, the PDC’s enforcement case against the VEC may proceed into the penalty phase.
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725