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Bainbridge councilwoman faces hearing for late campaign filings

Bainbridge Island Councilwoman Anne Blair has run afoul of state rules on disclosing campaign contributions.

The state's Public Disclosure Commission has scheduled a  hearing for Tuesday, Oct. 2 after a Bainbridge Island resident filed a complaint against the first-term councilwoman.

Blair acknowledged the late submittal of forms to the commission in her campaign last year for a North Ward council seat.

"It's for late filings of some of the C-4 forms," Blair said, referring to documents that listed donations to her race. "It happened and they were late."

According to the notice of administrative charges, the commission is citing Blair for being tardy when she submitted four C-4 forms late during her 2011 run for the city council.

All but the first form, which was due by July 11, 2011 and was 16 days late, were filed on Nov. 1, 2011 after their due dates over the summer and fall. All of the late forms were submitted before Election Day.

Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the commission, said Blair was required to file contribution and expenditure reports.

"She spent a little over $7,000. She was late in filing some of those reports," Anderson said.

Anderson said that the violations are "relatively minor in the grand scheme of things," but that there is no dispute that the reports were late.

The first form disclosed $1,350 in contributions, $120 in in-kind contributions and $51 in expenditures.

The second form was due Aug. 10, 2011; it disclosed a $46 in-kind contribution and $871 in expenditures.

The third form was due on Sept. 10 and stated $3,270 in contributions and $2,080 in expenditures.

The final form, a 21-day pre-General Election C-4 report, was due Oct. 18 and was 14 days late. It disclosed $3,270 in contributions and $2,190 in expenditures.

Blair said that her campaign treasurer was taking the time to make sure all expenses were properly reported, but some reports were filed late because the treasurer was out of town for personal reasons.

"Everything was in a week before the election, but some were definitely late, and it was a question of judgment by the campaign treasurer," Blair said. "She made sure that the donations were recored, and delayed on getting in on the expenses."

The initial complaint was filed by Sharon Gilpin after the election, on Dec. 29. Blair was immediately notified by the commission about the violations.

Gilpin is a political consultant and strategist, and volunteered for Blair's opponent in the race.

Gilpin said that because she works in politics, she tends to pay close attention to such things, regardless of the person is running. She said she noticed that Blair's C-3 forms — which name contribution amounts and contributor names — were turned in on time, but not the C-4 forms.

Gilpin said she submitted a complaint because campaigns should comply as best as they can.

"I do understand that it can be a burden, but it is just part of the package when one runs for office," Gilpin said.

Blair is not required to be present at the commission's proceedings in Olympia on Tuesday, but said she will attend the hearing. The maximum penalty for the late filing is $500.

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