PubliCola Reporting Forces KC Council Member Pete von Reichbauer to Return Illegal Contributions

By Erica C. Barnett June 28, 2010

Republican King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer's political-action committee, the Pete von Reichbauer PAC, has been collecting contributions in excess of state-mandated legal limits since fall 2009, a review of Public Disclosure Commission records confirms. In all, the excess contributions total nearly $7,500.

After being contacted by PubliCola about the matter last week, the state  Public Disclosure Commission contacted Von Reichbauer today and told him he had to return the excess contributions. PDC Spokeswoman Lori Anderson said von Reichbauer, who refused to talk to PubliCola because, as he told the Seattle Times, he believes we're  an "arm of the Democratic Party," has agreed to the return the money. (As for his claim that PubliCola is a tool of the Democratic party—please check the facts.)

King County campaign-finance rules limit contributions to a council candidate to $800 each for the primary and general election. Because von Reichbauer did not have a primary challenger in 2009, his contribution limit that year was $800. (Von Reichbauer subsequently returned thousands in overlimit contributions).

Moreover, state election law does not allow a single candidate to oversee more than one campaign fund at a time.

Under a state rule adopted in 1994, for the purposes of campaign contribution limits, "the following political committees are affiliated: 1) A state office candidate's authorized committee and any other committee established, maintained or controlled primarily by that candidate."

The law to which that policy refers to says that the contribution limits and rules apply to county-level candidates in counties with more than 200,000 residents, AKA King County.

However, von Reichbauer's PAC---which he confirmed to the Seattle Times he started himself and plans to use to contribute to unspecified candidates---received contributions from many of the same donors as his election campaign, in excess of state contribution limits.

For example, on May 6, 2009, the King County Police Officers Guild contributed $1,600 to von Reichbauer's campaign. On December 30 of that year, the guild contributed another $800 to von Reichbauer's PAC. On April 10 and June 3, 2008, "A and CJ Israel" gave a total of $1,600 to von Reichbauer's campaign. And on September 30, 2009, Allen Israel---who lists the same address and occupation as "A Israel"---gave $650 to von Reichbauer's PAC.

Altogether, the PAC contributions that exceed the $800 limit total nearly $7,500.

After discussing the policy with PDC staff, Anderson says, "we contacted Mr. von Reichbauer and made him aware of the restriction and asked him to refund the money.
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