OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Democratic challenger to Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman is criticizing her for closed-door meetings earlier this year with lobbyist groups who wanted to weigh in on ballot measures in a handful of states, including Washington.

A May meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Republican Secretaries of State Committee was detailed Friday in a story by The New York Times.

Public records obtained by the Times show a May 3 meeting between Wyman and the secretaries of state of Colorado and Ohio with and the National Restaurant Association, facilitated by the Republican Secretaries of State Committee. The restaurant group wanted to discuss proposed minimum wage initiatives in the three states. Wyman says she met with them only to explain the initiative process in Washington state.

Wyman is locked in a tight race with Tina Podlodowski for secretary of state.

Both released statements Friday in reaction to the report.

Kim Wyman

"This is just another breathless allegation by my opponent that has no factual evidence behind it. I challenge her to show any example – even one! – of a decision I have made or action I or my office has taken that shows any undue influence. She can’t. And the New York Times story would have, but it didn’t – because there isn’t any!

My opponent knows she is losing this election so she is desperately grasping for anything to scare voters. But like every other partisan allegation she’s made this election, this too is baseless. Given it’s already been proven that she manipulates facts to deceive voters, this too has no credibility.

This is also another example that my opponent has no idea what the Secretary of State does or the role our office plays in ballot measures. As Secretary of State, I don’t write ballot titles or descriptions. In Washington, ballot titles are written by the Attorney General, and pro and con statements in the voters’ pamphlet are written by committees chosen by the legislature. The only role my office plays is checking signatures – and the minimum wage initiative had an above average verification rate. So, again, where, exactly did I exert any undue influence?

My campaign has neither solicited nor received contributions from either the NRA or the National Restaurant Association, the two primary groups mentioned in the article. Additionally, I have spoken in front of left-leaning groups like Common Cause and the Brennan Center. After overseeing over 100 successful elections, I am happy to bring my experience to help all organizations who wish to understand elections.

My opponent, however, has received money from groups like the SEIU, which is a major proponent of Initiative 1501, which is on the ballot this year. She co-founded another organization with an initiative on the ballot this year. Given my opponent’s extreme partisanship and willingness to wield that partisan influence as Secretary of State, voters should be extremely worried about how she will influence future citizen initiatives. An enormous amount - around 15% - of her fundraising dollars are from out of state, a serious indication that she is the one beholden to outside special interest groups.Because she has absolutely no experience in running elections, my opponent is just reverting to her extreme partisan nature. This state can’t afford to have someone so partisan and inexperienced running our elections."

Tina Podlodowski

“As a longtime Washington voter, and as the Democratic candidate for
WA Secretary of State, I'm deeply troubled by my opponent, Republican
Kim Wyman's, connections to corporate special interests and right-wing
super PACs trying to control our nation's elections. Today’s reporting
shows Wyman is part of a pattern of closed-door meetings, connections
and benefitting from campaign cash from Republicans and corporate
special interests working to suppress the vote and compromise the
integrity of our initiatives and elections.

Wyman has tried to hide her ties to Republican special interests for far
too long, claiming that she’s “non-partisan,” but today's investigative
piece from The New York Times clearly outlines how corporate special
interests and right-wing groups buy influence with state elections'
officials across the county, including our own top official Republican
Kim Wyman.

Voters say they are worried about elections, and Wyman’s actions
further erode voter confidence. I will work to increase voter confidence,
participation and trust in our elections. Unlike my opponent, Republican
Kim Wyman, I will be open and transparent with Washington voters —
as I have been during this campaign — so they have confidence in our
elections and ballot initiative process, and so they know all voters are
treated equally in our democracy.”