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Campaign contributions questioned
A truck towing a large Deb Kelly campaign sign has parked along U.S. Highway 101 in several locations for the past three months. The cost of the display and whether or not it must be claimed as an in-kind contribution is at issue.
A Sequim woman filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on Oct. 4 alleging Deb Kelly, Clallam County's incumbent prosecutor, has not adequately claimed $54,446 of in-kind contributions for her campaign.
In the 12-page complaint, JulieAnna Gardiner stated she witnessed the production, transportation and placement of Deb Kelly campaign signs by Jay Ketchum, owner of Affordable Roofing, Affordable Services and Affordable Crane, which have not been claimed as in-kind contributions.
Kelly claimed $350 worth of "material for signage" as an in-kind contribution from Jennifer Ketchum-Ames on Aug. 9.
Gardiner contributed a catered meal worth $417.34 to the campaign of Kelly's opponent, Larry Freedman.
Gardiner's complaint lists the use of Jay Ketchum's crane to display a Deb Kelly sign above U.S. Highway 101 from June through September, a second crane holding a sign from August through September, a commercial flatbed truck used to tow a Deb Kelly sign around the county from July through September and $15,258 in other sign expenses. Gardiner asserts these should be claimed as in-kind contributions.
"Whereas construction is allowed as a volunteer contribution, wood, paint, truck tires, welded iron frames, use of cranes and flatbed trucks and the fuel to power them are not volunteer or construction in nature," she stated in the complaint. "These are materials and supplies purchased for use in the construction of campaign signs."
She added the lease of a crane and truck is not a construction activity either. The lease value of a crane for four months is $24,192, according to estimates from United Rentals included by Gardiner.
Gardiner also included several pages of photos documenting the sign supplies on Ketchum's business property as well as the cranes and truck displaying Deb Kelly signs.
"I think they are ridiculous," Kelly said of the allegations. "We have checked every step of the way with the Public Disclosure Commission and we've been told that we are doing everything correctly."
Kelly said she would be shocked if the commission determined there were violations of contribution reporting rules.
Lori Anderson of the PDC said the situation described is unusual.
"If I display a campaign sign on my private property, I'm not making a campaign contribution," she said in an e-mail. "Nor am I making a contribution when I attach a campaign sign to my car and drive around."
Anderson said the Ketchums could just be exercising their free speech rights to display a campaign sign - they just have better means to do it than most.
The PDC is expected to make a ruling on the complaint by Oct. 20.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.