Public Disclosure Commission investigating Federal Way City Council candidate

Federal Way City Council candidate Roger Flygare. Contributed photo

After a complaint was filed in mid-March, the Public Disclosure Commission is investigating Federal Way City Council candidate Roger Flygare for an allegation that he broke public disclosure laws.

Glen Morgan, the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, claims Flygare violated several laws that require candidates to register and file documents, such as their personal financial affairs statement, within two weeks after they announce their candidacy.

He’s also filed a similar complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office.

Morgan cited a Dec. 20, 2016, Federal Way Mirror article, “Flygare rescinds Federal Way City Council application, announces 2017 bid,” in which Flygare announced he would not seek appointment for City Council Position 2, which was left vacant by Kelly Maloney at the end of 2016. In that same article, Flygare said he would instead run for the City Council in 2017.

“As a four-time failed candidate for public office, Flygare is well aware of PDC requirements and should be held accountable for these violations,” Morgan wrote in his complaint.

Morgan said he has filed about 40 to 50 similar complaints against other candidates as he’s been involved in trying to reform some of the public disclosure rules.

“Roger is just one of many,” he said.

In a response to the Public Disclosure Commission, Flygare responded that he never mentioned a date in which he would run in 2017, nor did he announce the position he would seek.

“I think this complaint is disingenuous at best on the part of Mr. Morgan and borders on slander and libel as this could be construed to be an attempt to sabotage my reputation prior to any filing or announcement of any potential candidacy,” Flygare wrote.

Flygare told the Mirror he doesn’t believe it would be proper to comment as this is an active investigation.

In his response, however, Flygare alleged the Mirror took “obvious editorial liberties” with his statement and is “responsible for any misunderstanding.”

Flygare attached his email to the Mirror, which reads “After a great deal of deliberation over the weekend, I have decided to withdraw my name for consideration for the vacancy created by the resignation of Kelly Maloney for the Federal Way City Council. However, I will be announcing my candidacy for the Federal Way City Council in 2017.”

Flygare later made his official announcement on March 16 after, he said, several attempts to file his paperwork on March 7-8 failed due to a program that “kept continually crashing.” He is currently running for City Council Position 6 against incumbent Martin Moore.

Morgan pointed out Flygare only submitted the necessary paperwork after the complaint was filed.

“He tries to dispute the merits of the complaint, but it’s a pretty clear case of late filing,” Morgan said. “There are many examples of candidates and public officials being censored and fined by the PDC and the AG for this violation in the past.”

Morgan said he doesn’t know Moore, nor has he ever met him.

Evelyn Fielding Lopez, the executive director of the Public Disclosure Commission, said the issue of what is considered a formal candidate announcement has come up in various contexts with the commission throughout this year. She said it is common for candidates in smaller local races to be more casual in how they share information versus the larger state or legislative races.

When investigating these types of complaints, Lopez said she determines the candidate’s intent – whether they announced they were running or planning on running, if the candidate has asked for money or endorsements two weeks after the announcement or if the candidate asked someone else, such as a campaign consultant, to assist in campaign-related actions.

Lopez said Flygare’s case is a little unclear because he wasn’t careful with his wording, but her initial inclination is to rule that he didn’t intend for the December article to be an announcement.

She noted the investigation isn’t yet complete, however. She expects a decision before the end of April.

If investigators do find Flygare has violated the laws, the penalty would likely be a written warning.

Because Morgan filed his complaint with the Attorney General’s Office concurrently, however, investigators will determine the merits of his complaint and come to a separate decision from the Public Disclosure Commission.