42.17A.715  <<  42.17A.750 >>   42.17A.755

Civil remedies and sanctionsReferral for criminal prosecution. (Effective until January 1, 2026. Recodified as RCW 29B.60.010.)

(1) In addition to the penalties in subsection (2) of this section, and any other remedies provided by law, one or more of the following civil remedies and sanctions may be imposed by court order in addition to any other remedies provided by law:
(a) If the court finds that the violation of any provision of this chapter by any candidate, committee, or incidental committee probably affected the outcome of any election, the result of that election may be held void and a special election held within sixty days of the finding. Any action to void an election shall be commenced within one year of the date of the election in question. It is intended that this remedy be imposed freely in all appropriate cases to protect the right of the electorate to an informed and knowledgeable vote.
(b) If any lobbyist or sponsor of any grass roots lobbying campaign violates any of the provisions of this chapter, the lobbyist's or sponsor's registration may be revoked or suspended and the lobbyist or sponsor may be enjoined from receiving compensation or making expenditures for lobbying. The imposition of a sanction shall not excuse the lobbyist from filing statements and reports required by this chapter.
(c) A person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter may be subject to a civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars for each violation. However, a person or entity who violates RCW 42.17A.405 may be subject to a civil penalty of ten thousand dollars or three times the amount of the contribution illegally made or accepted, whichever is greater.
(d) When assessing a civil penalty, the court may consider the nature of the violation and any relevant circumstances, including the following factors:
(i) The respondent's compliance history, including whether the noncompliance was isolated or limited in nature, indicative of systematic or ongoing problems, or part of a pattern of violations by the respondent, resulted from a knowing or intentional effort to conceal, deceive or mislead, or from collusive behavior, or in the case of a political committee or other entity, part of a pattern of violations by the respondent's officers, staff, principal decision makers, consultants, or sponsoring organization;
(ii) The impact on the public, including whether the noncompliance deprived the public of timely or accurate information during a time-sensitive period or otherwise had a significant or material impact on the public;
(iii) Experience with campaign finance law and procedures or the financing, staffing, or size of the respondent's campaign or organization;
(iv) The amount of financial activity by the respondent during the statement period or election cycle;
(v) Whether the late or unreported activity was within three times the contribution limit per election, including in proportion to the total amount of expenditures by the respondent in the campaign or statement period;
(vi) Whether the respondent or any person benefited politically or economically from the noncompliance;
(vii) Whether there was a personal emergency or illness of the respondent or member of the respondent's immediate family;
(viii) Whether other emergencies such as fire, flood, or utility failure prevented filing;
(ix) Whether there was commission staff or equipment error, including technical problems at the commission that prevented or delayed electronic filing;
(x) The respondent's demonstrated good-faith uncertainty concerning commission staff guidance or instructions;
(xi) Whether the respondent is a first-time filer;
(xii) Good faith efforts to comply, including consultation with commission staff prior to initiation of enforcement action and cooperation with commission staff during enforcement action and a demonstrated wish to acknowledge and take responsibility for the violation;
(xiii) Penalties imposed in factually similar cases; and
(xiv) Other factors relevant to the particular case.
(e) A person who fails to file a properly completed statement or report within the time required by this chapter may be subject to a civil penalty of ten dollars per day for each day each delinquency continues.
(f) Each state agency director who knowingly fails to file statements required by RCW 42.17A.635 shall be subject to personal liability in the form of a civil penalty in the amount of one hundred dollars per statement. These penalties are in addition to any other civil remedies or sanctions imposed on the agency.
(g) A person who fails to report a contribution or expenditure as required by this chapter may be subject to a civil penalty equivalent to the amount not reported as required.
(h) Any state agency official, officer, or employee who is responsible for or knowingly directs or expends public funds in violation of RCW 42.17A.635 (2) or (3) may be subject to personal liability in the form of a civil penalty in an amount that is at least equivalent to the amount of public funds expended in the violation.
(i) The court may enjoin any person to prevent the doing of any act herein prohibited, or to compel the performance of any act required herein.
(2) The commission may refer the following violations for criminal prosecution:
(a) A person who, with actual malice, violates a provision of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor under chapter 9.92 RCW;
(b) A person who, within a five-year period, with actual malice, violates three or more provisions of this chapter is guilty of a gross misdemeanor under chapter 9.92 RCW; and
(c) A person who, with actual malice, procures or offers any false or forged document to be filed, registered, or recorded with the commission under this chapter is guilty of a class C felony under chapter 9.94A RCW.
[ 2019 c 428 s 37; 2018 c 304 s 12; 2013 c 166 s 1; 2011 c 145 s 6; 2010 c 204 s 1001; 2006 c 315 s 2; 1993 c 2 s 28 (Initiative Measure No. 134, approved November 3, 1992); 1973 c 1 s 39 (Initiative Measure No. 276, approved November 7, 1972). Formerly RCW 42.17.390.]


Effective dateFindingIntent2019 c 428: See notes following RCW 42.17A.160.
FindingIntent2018 c 304: See note following RCW 42.17A.235.
Effective date2013 c 166: See note following RCW 42.17A.055.
FindingsIntentEffective date2011 c 145: See notes following RCW 42.17A.005.
Intent2006 c 315: "It is the intent of the legislature to increase the authority of the public disclosure commission to more effectively foster compliance with our state's public disclosure and fair campaign practices act. It is the intent of the legislature to make the agency's penalty authority for violations of this chapter more consistent with other agencies that enforce state ethics laws and more commensurate with the level of political spending in the state of Washington." [ 2006 c 315 s 1.]
Severability2006 c 315: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 2006 c 315 s 4.]
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