Attorney General files campaign finance complaint against 19th District House candidate

Teresa Purcell, staff allegedly ‘failed to timely report debts and obligations as they were incurred’

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a complaint Monday against 19th District House candidate Teresa Purcell after receiving a tip she and her committee failed to follow campaign finance laws during her campaign.

A Citizens Action Notice – a written notice filed by a member of the public who believes there has been a violation of state campaign finance laws – was received by Ferguson’s office in October from a Glen Morgan alleging multiple violations of the state’s public disclosure laws by Purcell and her committee, People for Teresa Purcell. During a Public Disclosure Commission staff and Attorney General’s Office review, the state found that Purcell and her committee purchased services including video and film creation, political advertising and yard signs, but reported the debts only after invoices were paid. Staff also determined that the campaign failed to report required employer or occupation information for 42 individuals.

The state seeks penalties and injunctive relief. The defendants will have 20 days from the date they are served to respond to the state’s complaint. Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton and Assistant Attorney General Walter Smith are handling the case.

When the Attorney General’s Office receives a Citizen Action Notice, it has 45 days to investigate and respond to the sender. If the office does not start litigation, the sender may sue in the name of the state. If litigation is successful, any penalties awarded would go to the state, and an attorney for the sender could recover attorney fees and costs.

Purcell was the Democrat challenger for the 19th District House of Representatives seat this past November, narrowly losing to Republican candidate James Walsh from Aberdeen in the historically Democratic district. A call to Purcell late Monday was not immediately returned.