Disclosure complaint targets Washington state Senate candidate

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 20, 2013 

A candidate for state Senate is defending himself against a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Richland City Councilman Phillip Lemley allegedly did not make clear that he is a Republican on his campaign signs and literature, according to Richland resident Chuck Skirko.

Candidates are required to put their party preference on signs, said Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the Public Disclosure Commission.

Lemley said he is in compliance with that law.

"Every sign has an 'R' on it for 'Republican,' " Lemley told the Herald, adding that his campaign brochures say he is a member of the Benton Franklin Mainstream Republican party.

Skirko said Lemley's party preference can be difficult to see on a campaign sign when passing by in "light traffic."

"It is as if the candidate is being purposefully vague, or purposefully misleading about the position he seeks and his claimed party affiliation, perhaps in an effort to gain monetary or voter support," Skirko's complaint said.

Skirko also complained Lemley failed to put the number of the district he is running in on his signs. But Anderson said that is not required.

Lemley is running against incumbent Sen. Sharon Brown and West Richland City Councilman Tony Benegas in the Aug. 6 primary. The top two finishers advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

The Public Disclosure Commission has received the complaint against Lemley, but has yet to review it, Anderson said.

"Our enforcement director has been really swamped," she said.

Typically, if there is an issue with a campaign sign, the commission will allow the candidate to fix it, Anderson said. That includes letting them attach stickers, so they don't have to buy new signs.

"We kind of treat it like warnings when you get pulled over," she said.

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