Conservative whistleblower has filed 40 public disclosure cases, including against Berkowitz
By Jack Mayne
A conservative activist in the Olympia area is taking aim at Democrat office holders across the state for often minor errors in their Public Disclosure forms, and one of his targets is Burien City Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz (download PDF here).
But she is in good company – because Glen Morgan filed over 40 such minor infraction complaints against other Democrat officeholders.
Berkowitz “allegedly violated various provisions of the state’s campaign finance laws during her 2013 campaign and her current 2017 reelection campaign, including failure to timely file campaign registration paperwork and accurately report contributions and expenditures.”
Morgan is the executive director of the group Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Thurston County office. He was a loud complainer of how SeaTac officials handled a land use case involving area restaurant magnate Gerry Kingen.
‘Exaggerated and Overblown’
He has a track record of whistle blowing, with mixed results.
In mid-March, the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane said Morgan complained that the Democrat party there did not report significant contributions and expenses to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission in 2015 and 2016 in an effort to conceal salary payments to its then-Chairman, who was also the organization’s executive director.
The Spokane County Democrats said Morgan’s complaint was “exaggerated and overblown.”
Morgan also brought campaign finance charges against Washington House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp, a north Seattle Democrat, prompting involvement by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office, which filed charges in Thurston County Superior Court against Chopp and his campaign.
The case was settled with a fine of $3,480 and attorney’s fees in March.
This would never have happened if, in the words of an editorial in the Daily Olympian newspaper, “without the cape-less crusade of conservative activist Glen Morgan, who has made it his mission through disclosure commission documents looking for offenders.”
He has a website dedicated to helping potential political whistle blowers.
Morgan’s complaints are often very minor and very technical, some observers say.
The Olympian said Morgan has filed over 40 campaign finance complaints with the PDC.
Several people told The B-Town Blog that although political campaign finance enforcement depends on such complaints, it is unfortunate Morgan and others have used them for political pressure.
The Olympian said the objective is to undermine political opponents, “but in this game of tit-for-tat tattletale, they also undermine the public disclosure process and have turned the PDC into a pawn for political revenge.”
The Attorney General’s Office has only 45 days to investigate and respond to complaints and if it does not start a lawsuit, the person making the complaint can sue the targeted violator and, if they win, state gets the money.
It is well known that the disclosure commission works with a very lean staff and others say umbrella Attorney General’s office is also, even though money has been increased to handle an increase of campaign complaints be many activists in the state, including Morgan’s group.
Morgan told the Tacoma News Tribune that his PDC diligence has “nothing to do with political chicanery,” he just wants to let more people know about the rules of campaign finance.