Now that candidate filing is complete, assuming they waited, operatives for political campaigns are on duty looking for campaign violations committed by opponents. Each election cycle we get word of them and check them out. In the past we’ve had complaints about a firefighter using his gear in campaign ads, questions about requests for information that should be publicly available, a complaint about incumbent legislators wearing their official legislative name tags and too many complaints about sign vandalism to count.
This next one, a problem that has been fixed, is one we found.
On Charlotte Garrido’s website for her re-election campaign to
county commissioner, her contact page had a phone number and email
address that took, until sometime Monday afternoon, someone back to
We made a
call to Garrido this morning and will post her comment on the
matter as soon as we get it.
UPDATE: Ray Garrido, Charlotte’s husband, left a comment below on how this happened. It deserves placement in the main body, so I’ll also paste it here:
“I’m the person who put the phone number and email address on Charlotte’s contact page. I thought it would give people a way of contacting her about county issues, which is what the text of the page says. It was my mistake. I should have read the rules closer and I changed it as soon as I found out it was inappropriate.” — Ray Garrido
I also just spoke with Charlotte, and she wanted to be clear that this was not intentional, that she wants to be “absolutely, totally legal.” When she was contacted by the PDC, she called her husband and the number was changed. She was also disappointed we didn’t call her before calling the PDC. I did call the PDC first, because I wanted to make sure it was an actual infraction. It seemed like a clear-cut case, but no sense stirring things up if it wasn’t. Once I knew it was, I called the phone number on the website and waited a few hours before posting.
We also called the Public Disclosure Commission. “Yeah, this is bad,” said Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman. “We’ll contact her and tell her to take it off of there.”
The phone number went to Laura Melrose, Garrido’s assistant in the county offices. We spoke with Melrose and she seemed surprised to learn her number was linked on the campaign site. This suggests that not many, if any, people have taken up the offer to contact her from the campaign site. The email went directly to Garrido’s county email address and puts nothing in the subject line.
Both items were fixed sometime Monday.
By “bad,” Anderson means it was a violation of state campaign laws. RCW 42.17A.555 states:
“No elective official nor any employee of his or her office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition. Facilities of a public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of employees of the office or agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency.”
Most times these violations can be written off as small mistakes and I don’t suspect Garrido will be penalized for this incident.
But the rules are there for a reason. On this one the perception is taxpayers are paying for a campaign. If Melrose had spent any time at all answering a phone call that was campaign related, that’s taxpayer money paying for Melrose’s time. That’s not supposed to happen. Because someone noticed, it won’t anymore, if it ever did.
And just in case you want proof the site referred people to county contacts, click on the pictures. One is what was on the site. The other was the email address I saw when I clicked on the link.