Three Kennewick School Board members will have the chance this week to respond to allegations they violated campaign finance rules while campaigning for their positions in 2011.
The state Public Disclosure Commission will hold separate hearings for Brian Brooks, Ben Messinger and Ron Mabry beginning at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Olympia. Commission officials said the violations are minor and carry a maximum penalty of $500 for each candidate.
The three board members each are accused of accepting a $250 contribution and a $938.98 loan from a political supporter when they sought office in 2011.
The size of those contributions required the candidates to fully report all contributions, but they instead submitted mini campaign finance reports.
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Mabry said the situation arose from a supporter paying the postage for mailers sent out during the election. Mabry was unopposed for his spot on the board and said he later returned the money because it wasn't needed.
"There was no advantage for me to take anyone's money," he said.
Mabry told the Herald that he will appear by telephone for his hearing. Messinger declined comment, saying by email it would be inappropriate to comment before the hearing. Brooks could not be reached.
Tom Staly, a former Kennewick teacher who reported the allegations, said bringing the incidents to light is important to maintaining integrity in the district.
"It's just one way of letting these folks know we have an eye out," he said.
Staly, who also helps run the website Kennewick School District Residents, said he discovered the contributions when reviewing the board members' filings.
Staly supported Mabry but opposed Messinger and Brooks in the election, though he said he is happy with what they've done on the board so far.
However, Staly said he believes all three were recruited to seek office and were supported by a small group of people who wanted to pursue specific issues once on the board.
"I think because nobody really monitors this stuff, they thought nobody would really notice," he said.
A ruling on the issue is expected later Tuesday.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org