Following a tip, I began looking around recently for the federal Financial Disclosure Statements for the Democratic candidates involved in Washington's 1st Congressional District primary race, the election for which will be next week (but for which mail-in voting is currently under way).
But when I contacted the office the Clerk of the U.S. House, where these statements are filed, I was told that DelBene had not filed any Financial Disclosure Statement for 2011.
This is most peculiar. These statements are in fact required by law -- the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which clearly states:
Title I of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended (5 U.S.C. app. 4 §§ 101-111) (EIGA) requires Members, officers, certain employees of the U.S. House of Representatives and related offices, and candidates for the House of Representatives to file Financial Disclosure Statements with the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Individuals are required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement once they qualify as a candidate by raising or spending more than $5,000 in a campaign for election to the House of Representatives.
It is, in fact, a federal felony to fail to meet these requirements, punishable by heavy fines of up to $50,000 and, in the case of falsification, jail time. (See Page 9.)
Yet we know, from the forms that she filed with the Federal Elections Commission, that Suzan DelBene spent well over $5,000 in 2011 on her campaign for Congress in 2012.
We also know, from looking at the first quarter 2011 report, that she was designating these expenditures as going toward the 2012 primary (see the check boxes on the individual listings beginning on Page 6), as they were indeed for all the subsequent FEC filings for 2011.
We also know that, beginning in the fall of 2011, she began paying a salary to her campaign's finance chief (see Page 6).
It was kind of a startling and disturbing discovery. Why would a major candidate for federal office even run the risk of being investigated for this?
So I wrote to the DelBene campaign last Thursday and asked them to explain it. Here's my letter: