History

The origin of Washington's disclosure law can be traced to the efforts of concerned citizens who came together in 1970 believing that the public had the right to know about the financing of political activity in this state.  In 1971, following an unsuccessful attempt to generate legislative action and with minimal success in 1972, those concerned citizens who called themselves the Coalition for Open Government (COG), turned to the people.  

In order to place Initiative 276 on the November 1972 ballot, COG gathered nearly 163,000 signatures in record-breaking time. Seventy-two percent of voters approved I-276 and the law took effect January 1, 1973. In 1992, over 72% of reform-minded voters enacted contribution limits and other campaign restrictions with the approval of Initiative 134.

Washington state's law is one of the most exhaustive disclosure laws in the country. 

The Agency

The annual agency budget is $5.2 million appropriated from the state’s general fund.  An Executive Director appointed by the Commission manages the agency's day to day operations.  The 30-member staff’s main responsibilities are to receive reports and make them available to the public.  Annually, the agency receives approximately 6,500 annual personal financial statements and over 90,000 reports from candidates, political committees, lobbyists, and lobbyist employers.  Staff members also provide filer instruction, monitor compliance, conduct investigations, and develop online filing applications and data management systems.

PDC by the numbers

For calendar year 2021

  • Number of reports filed = 126,226
  • Number of filers = nearly 13,000 
    • Elected/appointed officials = 7,271
    • Candidates = 3,367
    • Political Committees =86
    • Registered lobbying firms = 459
    • Registered Lobbyist employers = 1,414
  • Complaints received or initiated = 376 
    • Cases opened = 891
    • Cases closed = 584
    • Cases handled through alternative resolutions = 349
    • Cases brought to brief hearing = 30
    • Cases brought to full hearing = 15
    • Cases referred to Attorney General Office = 3
    • Cases resolved by Attorney General Office = 3
  • Public records requests = 124
  • Electronic filing exemptions granted = 12
  • Open Data records available to the public online = More than 7.8 million records
  • Website page views = More than 2 million

 

For calendar year 2020

  • Number of reports filed = 113,274 
  • Number of filers = More than 11,000 
    • Elected/appointed officials = 6,556
    • Candidates = 1,582
    • Political Committees =781
    • Registered lobbying firms = 883
    • Registered Lobbyist employers = 1,442
  • Complaints received or initiated = 399 
    • Cases opened = 459
    • Cases closed = 409 
    • Cases handled through alternative resolutions = 284
    • Cases brought to brief hearing = 32
    • Cases brought to full hearing = 7
    • Cases referred to Attorney General Office = 4
    • Cases resolved by Attorney General Office = 3
  • Public records requests = 334
  • Electronic filing exemptions granted = 40
  • Open Data records available to the public online = More than 7.3 million records
  • Website page views = Nearly 2.1 million

For calendar year 2019

  • Number of reports filed = 99,126 
  • Number of filers = Approx. 13,000 
    • Elected/appointed officials = 7,244
    • Candidates = 2,250
    • Political Committees =1,124
    • Registered lobbying firms: = 938
    • Registered Lobbyist employers = 1,345
    • Incidental committees =33
  • Complaints received or initiated = 538 
    • Cases opened = 410 
    • Cases closed = 721 
    • Cases handled through alternative resolutions = 678 or 94% (Up 10% from previous year)
    • Cases brought to brief hearing = 3
    • Cases brought to full hearing = 9
  • Helpdesk requests answered = 8,900 
  • Public records requests = 516 (Up 14% from previous year)
  • Filers reporting electronically
    • Political Committees = 99.3%, up from 93% the previous year
    • Candidates =  96.2%, up from 90% the previous year
    • Lobbyists 98.5%, up from 94% the previous year
    • Elected and appointed officials filing financial disclosures electronically: 83.5%, up from 79% the previous year
  • Open Data records available to the public online = More than 7 million records
  • Website page views = Nearly 2.1 million

For calendar year 2018

  • Number of reports filed = 96,668
  • Number of filers = Approx. 10,000
    • Elected/appointed officials = 5,500
    • Candidates = 1,224
    • Political committees = 1,111
    • Registered lobbying firms = 875
    • Registered lobbyist employers = 1,357
  • Complaints received or initiated = 682
  • Cases opened = 769 (In 2008, this was approx. 100. In 2016, this was 309)
    • Citizen Action cases = 125 (in 2017, this was 263)
  • Cases closed = 773 (in 2008, this was 48, in 2016 this was 174)
    • # or % handled through alternative resolutions = 616 or 79.6% (in 2016, this was 114)
    • # or % brought to brief hearing = 83 or 10.7%
    • # or % brought to full hearing = 19 or 2.5%
  • Helpdesk requests answered = 7,200
  • Public records requests = 451 (increase of 12% over 2016)
  • Filers reporting electronically
    • Political Committees = 93%
    • Candidates = 90%
    • Lobbyists = 94% (from 50% before new app was launched)
    • Elected and appointed officials filing financial disclosures = 79%
  • Open Data records available to the public online = More than 5 million 
  • Website page views = 2.1 million