National Realtors admit Bellevue campaign violation
A National Association of Realtors Fund attorney admits the group failed to disclose election expenditures in support of Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A political arm of the National Association of Realtors inadvertently failed to make a legally required disclosure of the $36,200 it spent to help re-elect Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace, an attorney for the group said Thursday.
“We just slipped on this one and didn’t get the report filed on time. It’s no more complicated than that,” said Ralph Holmen, associate general counsel for the Chicago-based Realtors.
Holmen made that admission after Bellevue resident Becky Lewis complained to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) that the National Association of Realtors Fund broke the law.
“In an election that is this close, in which any amount of outside spending can make a critical impact, it’s disappointing that the National Association of Realtors did not follow our state PDC laws, hid how much was spent until after the election and did not respect our citizens’ right to know who spent large amounts on the race,” Lewis, a Democratic Party activist, said in an email.
Wallace, a real-estate developer, appears to have won a second term on the City Council, leading challenger Steve Kasner 51 to 49 percent as election officials continue counting votes.
Lewis’ PDC complaint cited a Seattle Times blog entry that quoted PDC Compliance Director Phil Stutzman saying the Realtors Fund failed to electronically report its spending as required by Oct. 14, the first business day after its direct mail, phone calls and online ads were presented to voters.
The fund filed a paper report on Oct. 30. The electronic report was filed on Tuesday, Election Day, after PDC staff became aware of the paper filing and contacted the organization, Stutzman said.
Stutzman said the PDC would investigate if a complaint were filed.
The Realtors Fund spent $76,400 on two city races, $36,200 in support of Wallace and $40,200 for Vancouver, Wash., Mayor Tim Leavitt.
Wallace raised a near-record $138,938 for his campaign separate from the Realtors’ spending.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org