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Council tightens election disclosure rules

NORTH BEND - Political candidates in North Bend now will have to follow campaign public disclosure and reporting requirements that have previously not applied to the area.

The move was initiated by North Bend Councilman Mark Sollitto at the group's Oct. 5 meeting and stems from a complaint filed with the Pubic Disclosure Commission regarding his 2003 council campaign. That complaint was determined to be unfounded by the commission, but it prompted Sollitto to introduce the new ordinance at last week's meeting to create a "trust and transparency" when it comes to local campaigns.

"This is absolutely what we need to do to build the public's trust," said Sollitto.

Last November, the North Bend City Council and mayoral elections garnered a fair share of controversy when an anonymous Web site emerged about two weeks before the polls opened that was used to criticize several of the candidates. It was discovered that one of the purveyors of the Web site was Sollitto's co-campaign manager. Sollitto disavowed any knowledge of the creation of the site until the creator told him she was involved just days before the election. At that point, Sollitto and the co-campaign manager parted ways. The creator said her personal money was used for the site, and that Sollitto had no knowledge of her actions.

Under state law, in cities that have less than 5,000 registered voters (as of the last general election) public disclosure guidelines do not apply in local elections. In last year's General Election, there were 2,531 registered voters within the city. With a 4-1 passage of the new resolution, North Bend candidates will be required to follow the reporting guidelines, which include submitting documentation stating from where contributions are received.

Travis Peterson can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at travis.peterson@valleyrecord.com.

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