Several-time Kirkland City Council candidate Martin Morgan committed several campaign violations, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has determined.
The PDC confirmed at a Jan. 23 hearing that Morgan had failed to file a candidate registration (C-1 report) within two weeks of declaring his candidacy for Kirkland City Council for the 2019 election year. The PDC also confirmed that for the same campaign, Morgan failed to file within two weeks a Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) report.
A C-1 report covers a candidate’s campaign information. An F-1 report discloses a candidate’s financial activities in the year before they’ve announced their candidacy.
Morgan’s most recent C-1 was filed 143 days late and the F-1 was filed 73 days late, according to PDC documents.
In 2015, Morgan was found to have made the same C-1 violation. But that $100 penalty was suspended on the condition that Morgan commit no further violations. The $100 penalty was reinstated at the Jan. 23 hearing because Morgan had made another violation before the infraction-free period concluded.
The hearing comes in the wake of an Oct. 10, 2019, complaint filed to the PDC by former Kirkland City Council member Dave Asher. Among several claims made in the filing include Asher alleging that Morgan had failed on multiple occasions to file a C-1 report within the set time frame and that he had not been transparent about finances and expenditures during several council campaigns.
“Not meeting timeliness standards for public disclosure laws indicates a fundamental disregard of them,” Asher stated in his filing.
The Jan. 23 hearing, for which Morgan was not present, was preceded by a Jan. 6 review hearing after the PDC opened a formal investigation.
According to compliance officer Jennifer Hansen, who presented the case at the Jan. 23 hearing, Morgan did not respond to multiple attempts at contact from the PDC before the meeting.
“He was actually given two opportunities to complete a statement acknowledging a violation for each report — for the late C-1 report and for the F-1 report — and to also acknowledge a violation of that previous condition,” Hansen said. “He did not respond to either one of those, and he did not respond at all to the initial hearing that we had in order to convert this particular investigation to a formal investigation so it could be heard today. He did not respond to the hearing notice, either.”
Hansen noted that she received no bouncebacks when she emailed Morgan. The address had been successfully used in previous instances, according to Hansen.
Speaking to the Reporter, Morgan spoke of accessibility issues as being a major cause of the late filings.
“The process is very difficult to understand and work through,” Morgan said. “That’s why everybody else hires somebody just to do that. I think the common person should be able to do this. I think a homeless person should be able to run for an office, and they made it extremely difficult to get that done. I’m just doing things the best I can — I load up my computer, and they’re updating their software, it doesn’t work right…I’m wondering how somebody on the street or somebody who wants to effect change in the government runs for office if they don’t have access to all that.”
The total penalty amounts to $400. The F-1 and C-1 violation costs are each $150, supplemented by the reinstituted $100 2015 fee.
It is required that the penalties be paid within 30 days. According to an email from PDC communications and outreach director Kim Bradford, penalties are sent to a collection agency if they go unpaid for an extended period.
As of Jan. 30, the PDC has not yet received payment from Morgan, Bradford confirmed in an email. She added that the order issued this week in the wake of the hearing resolves all issues in the case, and that the PDC is not investigating any other Morgan-related matters.
For more information about the case, go to the PDC website (https://bit.ly/38Xf35k).