A bill that would strip the governor of authority over the membership of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission has been introduced by a group of Senate Republicans, joined by Democrat Rodney Tom.
Under current law, the existing five-member commission is appointed by the governor. SB 6323 would dismiss all current commissioners on July 31, 2014, and replace them with a new commission appointed by legislative party leaders.
The Democratic leaders of the State House and Senate would both name a member, as would their Republican counterparts. Then, three of those four appointees would name the fifth member.
State Sen. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island, leader of Senate Democrats, expressed doubt about the bill.
“I worry that if this bill were to become law, an absolutely integral partner in our system of checks and balances would fall victim to political gridlock.," Nelson said in a press release. "The PDC was established as a watchdog for voters and our political system in general. At a time when money is flowing into political campaigns at a rate greater than we’ve ever seen, we need the PDC more than ever.”
Among other things, the Public Disclosure Commission enforces the state campaign finance laws that require disclosure of contributions in state and local elections. The commission maintains a website with a wealth of information about those contributions, as well as information on lobbyists and their activities.
Here's the mission statement, from the commission's website:
"The Public Disclosure Commission was created and empowered by Initiative of the People to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about the financing of political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates, and to ensure compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington's disclosure and campaign finance laws."