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Kent's Stober under investigation by state Public Disclosure Commission

Bailey Stober is under investigation by the state Public Disclosure Commission for campaign violations during his unsuccessful run in November for the Kent City Council. - Kent Reporter, file photo
Bailey Stober is under investigation by the state Public Disclosure Commission for campaign violations during his unsuccessful run in November for the Kent City Council.
— image credit: Kent Reporter, file photo

The state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) is investigating a complaint that Bailey Stober failed to file expense reports during his campaign against Ken Sharp for the Kent City Council.

Stober lost the November race to Sharp, who last week resigned from the council because of pending first-degree theft charges against him. Stober has said he plans to apply for the vacant seat. The council will pick Sharp's replacement.

"Yes, there is an investigation underway," said Lori Anderson, PDC communications officer, in a Tuesday email. "It will likely be a couple of months before there is any progress to report."

Stober said he just found out Tuesday about the investigation, which was launched this month by the PDC.

"This investigation has been spearheaded by political motivation and partisan politics," Stober said in an email. "My correspondence with the PDC throughout the campaign has been documented and will be used. I have absolutely nothing to hide. We had technical issues that we were unable to resolve."

Stober raised $7,055 for his campaign but didn't file an expenditures report, according to the PDC website. State law requires monthly reports during a campaign and a final report in December after a November election.

"Once the staff finishes the investigation, the complaint will be dismissed or staff will file charges so that a hearing can be held," Anderson said.

At a hearing, the PDC can dismiss the complaint or find a violation and determine what the penalty should be, Anderson said. The commission can level a fine up to $10,000, but fines can be as small as $100 to $200.

"Hard to guess how much penalty might be assessed," Anderson said. "Again, there may be no penalty. It just depends on how the investigation goes."

Stober said he has spoken to a PDC investigator and plans to cooperate to the fullest extent possible.

"I must be afforded due process and as a result these investigations are often resolved and dismissed," Stober said. "This isn't the first time a candidate in Kent has had to respond to one of these investigations and I don't anticipate it'll be the last. This is a civil investigation not criminal and often the result of discipline is a monetary fine."

Despite the investigation, Stober said he still plans to seek the council's appointment to Sharp's vacant seat.

"This doesn't impact my ability to serve the residents of Kent if chosen by the city council to serve," Stober said. "I look forward to applying for the  appointment and going through the process along with other Kent citizens and will honor the council's decision."

Kent resident Don Mason filed the complaint on Nov. 27 against Stober.

The complaint also includes allegations that Stober failed to file complete reports in 2011 when he lost a city council race to Deborah Ranniger.

"Mr. Stober demonstrated he is well spoken, intelligent and well connected and his prior campaign experience," Mason wrote in the complaint. "Yet, for whatever reason he greatly failed to follow the intent and the established rules in public disclosure in his 2013 campaign with one exception of filing C3 reports."

Candidates file C3 reports to document money donated to their campaigns. The expense forms are known as C4 reports. Stober served as his own treasurer, according to C3 reports about donations to his campaign.

The five specific complaints filed by Mason include:

• Failure to have timely and complete C4 reporting for the 2011 campaign.

Mason alleges Stober failed to have a final C4 filing indicating what he did with his campaign balance of $3,231.

• Failure to have any C4 reporting for the 2013 campaign including all items required on a C4, Form A and any other reporting documents dealing with in-kind contributions or loans.

Mason notes that Stober's campaign had activities that require expenditures, including the use of campaign signs posted throughout the city before the primary and general elections; the use of automated phone calling to voters in the primary and general elections; and the use of a campaign website.

• Failure to have campaign records available at the address specified in filed C1 report when requested and the request acknowledge by the candidate.

Candidates file a C1 report when they register to run. Mason wrote that Stober selected the Kent Library address as a place where his records could be viewed. Mason said a reference librarian told him no such records were on file. Mason then contacted Stober to see his records. Mason said "Stober refused my requests and knowingly violated the PDC requirements for public access to his campaign records in the eight-day period."

• Failure to have proper campaign disclosure information on printed material.

Mason said Stober handed out campaign materials at various events that failed to follow the PDC requirements for proper disclosure.

• Failure to properly disclose sponsor information on paid phone calling.

Mason alleges Stober's campaign used negative phone calls against his opponent with no identification of who paid for the call and no mention of Stober's name.

As part of the formal complaint, Mason signed an oath that the complaint is complete, true and correct to the best of his knowledge and belief.

Stober said he will have more specific responses to the complaint after he works with the PDC to resolve it.

To view the complaint, go to http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/enforcement/status/pdfs/2014/14017.CUI.pdf.

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