Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seattle Port Fined for Failing to File 42 Months of Lobbying Expenses

The Washington state Public Disclosure Commission has fined the Port of Seattle $3,750 for failing to timely file 18 quarterly reports detailing the port's publicly-funded lobbying of the state legislature.

Following a complaint filed in July 2010, the PDC began an investigation into the matter in February 2011.

The PDC found that the port, in response to the original complaint with the PDC, filed 23 quarterly lobbying reports on January 14. Of these, 18 reports covering from the start of April, 2006 through the end of September, 2010, were between 62 days and four years late under deadlines set forth in state law.

The 18 reports detailed reportable lobbying expenses by the port totaling $269,900. However, of this amount, the PDC said in it's ruling that $233,708 of the total unreported expenses "represented payments for lobbying services previously reported in a timely manner by the port's contracted lobbyist" in required monthly disclosure reports by the lobbyist to the PDC.

The PDC found that port failed to disclose a total of $36,192 in previously unreported lobbying expenses, including $33,801 for time spent lobbying by port employees, $1,500 for lobbying-related brochures and publications, and $891 in port employee lobbying-related travel costs.

The PDC cited the port for violating state law multiple times by failing to make the quarterly reports on time.

The port was fined $7,500 for the violations, of which half would be suspended if the port made on time quarterly reports for the next four years and paid the remaining $3,750 fine within 60 days of the PDC's May 18 ruling.

Port officials, according to the Seattle Times, called the PDC reporting problems a lapse in procedures.