Today's losers: City Council members Jean Godden and Bruce Harrell.
Seattle City Council members Jean Godden and Bruce Harrell, who were both reelected in November, are being fined by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for failing to report thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and obligations in a timely manner. Godden received a $200 fine; Harrell received a $150 fine. [pullquote]"Especially when inaccurate campaign reports have the effect of making a campaign's finances appear stronger than they were in reality, I have no alternative but to impose a fine."---City Ethics director Wayne Barnett, to Jean Godden[/pullquote]
Godden, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission found, failed to report more than $16,000 in pre-primary obligations (debts) to consultant Cathy Allen's firm, the Connections Group. That money included fees for campaign literature, consulting, office space, and web site design. Overall, Godden paid Allen's firm at least $108,000 in direct payments, some of which were used to pay sub-vendors. Additionally, her campaign finance reports include more than $55,000 in outstanding debts. Allen---who charged Godden $2,000 a month for office space, for example---is widely regarded as the most expensive consultant in the city.
The latter figure is an estimate based on the total amount of debt Godden reported incurring to Allen that she did not subsequently report paying off; however, since some payments may have been partial payments, it's possible that not all debt payments are directly reflected in the reports, which would make Godden's total outlay to Allen slightly lower.
In a letter to Godden's campaign, ethics commission director Wayne Barnett wrote, "A successful campaign finance reporting regime requires that all campaigns abide by the same rules. Especially when inaccurate campaign reports have the effect of making a campaign's finances appear stronger than they were in reality, I have no alternative but to impose a fine."
In Harrell's case, the campaign failed to report obligations (again, debts) totaling nearly $15,000 for nearly two months. Those debts were mostly for consulting services by Rule Seven, a consulting firm run by Harrell's niece, Monisha Harrell.
"A major purpose of the Seattle Elections Code is to give the public timely access to information regarding all contributions and expenditures (including obligations made supporting or opposing City candidates," Barnett wrote in a letter to Harrell's campaign. "The Committee's delay in reporting inhibited this purpose, and therefore I am compelled to impose these penalties."
Harrell's campaign has paid the fine. Godden's campaign manager, Carlo Caldirola-Davis, says that although "we dispute that anything was wrong and feel we complied with the filing requirements to the best of our ability," the campaign will not appeal the fine.