Kirkland City Councilman Toby Nixon filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on Monday against Bothell resident Kinnon Williams, a candidate for EvergreenHealth board of commissioners Position 2.
Nixon claims the candidate, who is challenging longtime incumbent Rebecca Hirt, failed to report all of his contributions that he received. He later amended his complaint after he discovered a filing discrepancy, but claims the candidate is still in violation of some PDC rules.
However, Williams said he properly filed all of his reports and points to a “system malfunction” that has ultimately kept the updated information from showing up on the PDC website.
The PDC website states that Williams has raised nearly $31,000 so far for his campaign.
Nixon said the amount is “an extraordinary sum” for a hospital district race, so he decided to check the PDC website to see who was funding the campaign.
According to Nixon’s PDC complaint, Williams reported to the commission on July 23 a $30,000 deposit. However, his corresponding C-3 report, which shows who the contributions came from, shows only $20,000 in contributions deposited on that date. Also, that report was filed on Oct. 4 and should have been filed no later than Aug. 10, the complaint continues.
The PDC website also does not show who contributed the remaining $10,000.
“I am very passionate about public disclosure, both by government itself, but also candidates – people who are seeking to run the government on our behalf,” said Nixon, who is also president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government. “The whole purpose of campaign finance reporting is to show who elected officials are going to be beholden to because these people paid for the campaign.”
But Williams said he reported all of his contributions he received and the PDC website is unreliable.
“If Mr. Nixon would have bothered to check with the PDC instead of relying on an unreliable online source of information, he would have seen that we did in fact send in all of the information right away as soon as we got it,” said Williams, who noted he had to re-submit the information he previously filed after the information did not show up on the PDC website. “If anything, blame this on government malfunction or a system that doesn’t work well, as opposed to my compliance.”
The Councilman also pointed out that Williams received $10,000 from Al DeYoung, chair of the EvergreenHealth board who has been a commissioner since 1980. He also received an additional $10,000 from DeYoung’s daughter, Lucy DeYoung, who is a former Woodinville mayor.
Since filing the complaint, Nixon found a handwritten disclosure form on the PDC website that documents the entire $30,000 in contributions.
He said while Williams complied with the law and PDC filings with his original report of $30,000, he still believes Williams is in violation of PDC rules by not filing the report electronically. He said PDC rules require electronic filing – not handwritten filings – when total contributions exceed $10,000.
The handwritten form he found also disclosed who contributed the remaining $10,000 – Al DeYoung’s wife, Donna DeYoung.
“I live in the EvergreenHealth hospital district – why is Al DeYoung trying to buy a seat for his friend on the hospital board of commissioners?” Nixon said. “I think it’s important to the general public because if Williams were to be elected as a direct result of this huge contribution from the DeYoung family, does that mean he’s not going to be an independent voice? Does that mean he will be a rubber stamp to everything Al votes on? I think that should really concern people.”
But Williams vehemently denies Nixon’s assertions.
He believes Nixon’s PDC complaint is a “political shenanigan.” And he said he will vote for what is in the best interest of his constituents.
“He [Nixon] knows damn little about me and you can quote me on that one,” said Williams. “I’m nobody’s patsy; never have been, never will be.”
He noted that DeYoung asked him to run for the seat and he is doing so for community service. He is vice chair of the Evergreen Healthcare Foundation and says that many voters he has spoken with hope to see his community service translate to his service on the board of commissioners, if elected. He also served as an elected Northshore Utility District commissioner for 14 years.
“I don’t need the money and I certainly don’t need some politician questioning my motives,” Williams added. “If anyone is going to insult my integrity, bring it on.”
Al DeYoung also denies “buying” Williams’ seat.
“I’ve given the hospital over a million dollars in gifts to help build things up at the hospital,” said Al DeYoung, who lives in Woodinville. “Why would I be trying to ruin my integrity by doing something like that. I’m not trying to buy anybody’s vote.”
In his 34 years of serving on the EvergreenHealth board, Al DeYoung said Williams is the first candidate he has seen vie for a position on the board who is worth supporting monetarily.
“I’m supporting him because he’s a qualified candidate – that’s as plain and simple as you can get,” Al DeYoung said. “I’m not interested in personalities. I’ve been on the board for 34 years and I’ve worked with a lot of people for all these years and sometimes you work with people who are better than others. Kinnon has done a fine job with the [Evergreen Healthcare] Foundation and I’m very impressed.”
He added that he doesn’t think Williams would “rubber stamp anything other than what he thought was best for the situation. I think Kinnon is the best man for the job and a big improvement over what we have.”
He said it “doesn’t take any genius” to figure out that he intends to unseat Williams’ opponent, Hirt.
“I think Williams can do a better job than Rebacca Hirt. I wouldn’t support him if I didn’t think so,” he said, noting he believes that Williams can help move EvergreenHealth forward. “It’s a very important position to have at this time, we’re going through a critical time with the hospital. He can get job done.”
Al DeYoung also said that his family’s large contribution was done out of altruism.
“I’m a man of few words and I try to stop and assess the situation and do what’s right for Evergreen,” he said. “Maybe some people worry about that, but my heart is with Evergreen.”
Hirt could not be reached for immediate comment.