The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission investigation staff today recommended dismissal of a complaint lodged by the State Democratic Party against Americans for Prosperity Washington relating to mailings the organization sent out in 2010. Although the PDC has yet to officially act upon its recommendation, but that action to put an end to the year-long inquiry could happen soon, perhaps after the commission hears the results of the investigation at their Dec. 8th meeting.

The decision comes as welcome news to current AFPW Chairperson Nansen Malin.

“AFP has always maintained that this was a frivolous complaint,” Malin told NW Daily Marker by email this afternoon. “I am pleased with the recommendation.”

The reaction from State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz was considerably less exuberant:

“It is a travesty that the PDC staff took over a year to assess whether the unethical, behind-closed doors actions of the Koch Brother’s backed AFP-WA violated state law. AFP-WA was given a free-pass to influence the 2010 election cycle without a word from the state agency that is supposed to serve as our campaign finance watch-dog.

“Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and countless other right-wing organizations are planning to pour hundreds of millions in shady money into the 2012 election cycle. The PDC staff has just issued a road map as to how they can funnel their dirty politics into Washington State.”

The recommendation to dismiss turned on two key questions. First, did the activities of AFPW conform to the state’s legal definition of a political committee; second, were the mailers sent by AFPW in 2010 political independent expenditures or electioneering and therefore subject to limitations and disclosure requirements. The PDC’s report clearly answers each question: No and no.

The PDC determined that although AFPW did target Democratic candidates with their mailings, the content of the pieces did not solicit recipients to vote one way or another, but instead offered a general negative criticism of how each candidate had voted in the past, there was no call to action that could be called political advertising. The report finds that AFPW engaged in “issue advocacy,” and as such cannot be subject to government regulation.

You can read the entire PDC report here.


[photo credit: dan taylor]