State Senate Dems probe potential misspent funds

OLYMPIA — A group that works to elect Democrats to the state Senate is investigating whether its executive director made improper expenditures using money from the organization.

The Washington Senate Democratic Campaign Committee (SDCC) learned of a potential misappropriation Wednesday, according to a statement released late Friday by Pacifica Law Group, which the SDCC has hired to conduct the investigation.

Pacifica is working with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Seattle Police Department and the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on the investigation, according to the statement.

No charges have been filed, said Paul Lawrence, an attorney with Pacifica.

The subject of the inquiry is Executive Director Michael King, according to Democratic sources.

Local news blog PubliCola first reported the investigation Friday night.

Lawrence said late Friday that a compliance consultant for the SDCC raised a concern to the committee’s leadership “that there appeared to be excessive reimbursements to an employee and that’s what raised the concern.”

SDCC leaders hired Pacifica, which started an investigation and contacted law enforcement.

Democratic Sens. David Frockt, Sharon Nelson and Ed Murray, all of Seattle, serve as co-chairs of the committee. Murray is also the state Senate Democratic leader and is running for mayor of Seattle. He declined to comment Friday night. Lawrence said the executive director runs the committee and the compliance consultant tracks how money is being spent. “The actual co-chairs of the committee are not actively involved day to day” and would not be aware of the daily flow of money, he said.

It’s not clear how much money is in question. Initial estimates range from $30,000 to more than $100,000, according to one of the sources.

The SDCC raised $1.06 million and spent $1.02 million in 2012, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

King joined the SDCC in 2011, according to a biography on the group’s website.