The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission says it cannot investigate a new complaint alleging then-state senator Ed Murray misused campaign surplus funds in 2008, concluding that the statute of limitation has passed.
A citizen complaint filed Saturday by Chris Clifford references the April 6 Seattle Times article that reported now Seattle Mayor Ed Murray used campaign funds nearly a decade ago to hire a private investigator and attorney to address allegations of sexual abuse that surfaced.
PDC records from 2008 reveal that Murray used money from his surplus account to pay around $8,000 to “Roger W. Morse Investigations,” as well as $10,000 to Portland attorney Katherine Heekin.
The expenditures are labeled as being for “research,” but the Seattle Times reports the attorney was used to discredit two Portland men who alleged that Murray abused them in the 1980s when they were still teens.
One of the alleged Portland victims, Jeffrey Simpson, said he reached out to an attorney in 2007 but the case didn’t go much further.
“I never thought it would get to this because he has such powerful attorneys and people working for him,” Simpson said. “Who am I?”
While a suit against Murray was never filed at the time, and no media reported about the allegations, the suit filed in Seattle last week on behalf of a different plaintiff brought renewed attention to past allegations.
The mayor and his attorney have denied all allegations, calling them “categorically false.”
When asked about past accusations involving the alleged Portland victims, Murray’s attorney said on Tuesday: “They’ve been completely debunked.”
As for whether the mayor violated state law by using surplus funds to pay an attorney and private investigator in 2008, the PDC says it’s unclear.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a complaint exactly this,” PDC Executive Director Evelyn Fielding Lopez said.
Lopez says campaign surplus money can be used for “non-reimbursed public office related expenses,” according to state law.
Therefore, Murray would have had to make a case that the allegations were brought forth because he was a public official.
An official PDC investigation would require him to respond to the allegations and explain the use of funds. But the PDC said the case will not move forward because it happened more than five years ago.
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