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Longtime Sequim business owner earns election fine
The political committee, Citizens Against Fire District 2 Levy, reported seven cash contribution made by employees of local business owner and resident, Bill Littlejohn last September. The committee opposed the Fire District 2 “levy lid lift ballot proposition on the November 5, 2013, general election ballot,” according to a recent State of Washington Public Diclosure Commission report. However, the seven contributions of $7,500 were made by Littlejohn personally and not his employees after all, but only under the guise of their names.
Public Disclosure Commission officials followed up on a complaint made to the commission by Michael DeRousie, organizer of the Committee to Support Clallam County Fire District 2. Upon further investigation by Public Disclosure Commission Compliance officers, the commission penalized Littlejohn with a $60,000 fine, which Littlejohn agreed to pay and admitted his actions.
“I was totally shocked by the amount (of the penalty),” Littlejohn said. “This is not something I’ve been involved in before so I guess lesson learned.”
Half of the penalty was suspended, but in turn requires Littlejohn to pay $4,000 toward the investigative cost to the Public Disclosure Commission, pay the remaining $30,000 within 60 days — funds go to the state’s general fund — and not commit the same violation within the next four years, said Lori Anderson, Public Disclosure Commission communications and training officer.
“It’s a serious violation of the disclosure laws,” Anderson said. “When determining the penalty amount the commission looks at similar cases.”
Because Littlejohn admitted he was in violation of the campaign disclosure laws and wanted to work with the Public Disclosure Commission toward a settlement, Anderson said his case was settled at the staff level and never went through the hearing process.
“I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t realize it was such a big deal,” Littlejohn said. “But what’s done is done and I can only learn my lesson and go on.”
Littlejohn owns Olympic Ambulance, Sherwood Assisted Living and Olympic Oxygen, and made contributions using the names of employees from all three business with the “permission of six of the seven employees,” according the Public Disclosure Commission report. The six employees that gave Littlejohn their permission were unaware there is a prohibition against making contributions in the name of another person.
“Littlejohn stated that he made the contributions in the names of others, rather than in his own name because he was trying to ‘keep a low profile,’” according to a June 5 interview with Littlejohn included in the Public Disclosure Commission report. “He stated the ballot measure was a threat to some of his businesses.”
Although Littlejohn’s relationship with Fire District 2 officials had “a pretty rocky start,” the two entities are working together now and have “hammered out an agreement and are looking for a good relationship,” Littlejohn said.
Primary ballots go to mail today
Today, July 16, the county Auditor’s Office will be mailing ballots to 46,577 registered voters in Clallam County. Ballots must be voted and mailed or placed in a ballot drop box no later than Aug. 5.
While all voters will get to vote on state legislators and Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney positions, only those voters in Clallam County Commissioner District 3 are eligible to nominate the two candidates to appear on the November general election ballot; all county voters select the new commissioner in November. If a ballot is not received, voters may contact the Auditor’s Office at 417-2217 for a replacement ballot or come to the Auditor’s Office in the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles.