OLYMPIA — Lt. Gov. Brad Owen was fined $1,000 on Thursday for failing to submit finance reports related to his campaign and surplus accounts.
The Public Disclosure Commission approved the charge despite Owen’s request that he not be fined. Owen argued technical issues and poor advice from the commission led to the delayed filings.
“We did everything we could possibly could,” Owen said. His mother served as his treasurer.
Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton acknowledged there were indications that Owen and his treasurer had made an effort to properly file the documents. But she said it’s ultimately the politician’s responsibility to make sure reports have been submitted and are available for viewing on the Public Disclosure Commission’s website.
Owen’s arguments irked PDC Commissioner Jim Clements, who said Owen was attacking the organization’s staff. Clements, a former Republican lawmaker who has been on the commission for five years, said he hadn’t seen anyone complain like Owen did.
“I’m disappointed, personally,” Clements said.
Owen shot back quickly, pointing out that he hasn’t had other problems in his three decades in public office: “How many times have I been before you?”
“Well, too many. Right now: one,” Clements said.
“That sounds a little biased,” Owen said.
Half of the fine is suspended for two years, meaning Owen will not have to pay it if he has no other campaign finance violations during that span. PDC member Amit Ranade said the fine is lower than typical for the violations involved.
Owen has served as lieutenant governor since 1997 and is currently seeking re-election against Republican Bill Finkbeiner.