By Nicholas Johnson

Saying that it found no evidence, the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) dismissed allegations Friday that an anonymous “non-political group of concerned citizens” violated campaign finance and disclosure laws by using emails, a Facebook page and “homemade” videos to promote a slate of four Burien City Council candidates ahead of the August primary.

In a July 22 complaint, a campaign strategist working for Position No. 1 candidate Hugo Garcia alleged that Burien United had failed to register as a political committee, include proper sponsor-identification language on political advertising, and disclose contribution and expenditure activity, stating that the anonymous group “clearly spent time and money.

“This flies directly in the face of Washington State Campaign Finance Law and as such they need to either file with the PDC or cease their spending,” Michael Fertakis wrote in his complaint.PDC dismisses allegations against anonymous group Burien United 1

“We have raised no money, given no money, received no money and spent no money,” the anonymous group wrote in its Sept. 17 response. “We are a small group of Burien residents who made a Facebook page.”

PDC staff also asked Burien United whether it had spent money producing candidate videos. Those videos, which were published to Vimeo as well as the anonymous group’s Facebook page ahead of the primary election, have since been removed.

“The Vimeo channel we are/were using is free and the little interviews were homemade,” Burien United told the PDC in a Sept. 28 response.

The anonymous group’s Vimeo account – which hosted videos featuring Position No. 1 candidate Martin Barrett, Position No. 7 candidate Stephanie Mora and Position No. 5 candidate Alex Simkus – disappeared in late September, but posts dating to July 17 on its Facebook page remain publicly accessible. Beyond recommending certain candidates, some of those Facebook posts have also promoted misinformation about enhanced services facilities.

Nicholas Johnson (he/him) is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who grew up in Boulevard Park, graduated from Highline High School and studied journalism at Western Washington University. Send news tips, story ideas and positive vibes to [email protected].