OLYMPIA — An Ephrata lawyer and former judge broke Washington campaign finance laws when he sent an anonymous mailer opposing a candidate for prosecutor.
A Thurston County judge ruled Tuesday that Ephrata attorney Jerry Moberg, alongside Moses Lake businessman Ken Greene, concealed their sponsorship of the mailer and failed to register as a political committee. The two sent the anonymous mailer in 2014 attacking then-candidate Garth Dano, who’s now the Grant County prosecutor.
The flyer identified “Grant County Concerned Voters” as its sponsor, but the Attorney General’s office said no such group ever registered with the
state Public Disclosure Commission, or filed any financial reports with the agency as required.
When the PDC investigated, Moberg and Greene at first did not disclose the fact that Moberg paid $4,000 in cash to help print the flyer. The PDC uncovered emails and documents showing money transfers from Moberg to Greene, and then to the South Dakota printing company that produced the mailer.
“While under oath, each defendant represented that no one other than Green had any role in paying for the Dano mailer, and that Moberg, in particular, did not help pay for the mailer,” Thurston County Judge John Skinder wrote in his ruling.
Thousands of Grant County voters received the mailers in October 2014, shortly before the election. Dano ultimately won the race over incumbent Prosecutor Angus Lee.
Moberg is a former Superior Court judge who once argued a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1993, Moberg received a formal admonishment from the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, in part for teaching a paid class at Central Washington University while on the bench.
A trial later this month will determine the fine the two men must pay. The Attorney General’s office says it will argue that Moberg and Greene intentionally concealed their roles in the mailer scheme, which could lead to more than $300,000 in penalties.