Sen. Dems: Misuse of Campaign Funds Might Have Cost Key Race

Sep 25, 2013

Washington Senate Democrats say the misuse of campaign funds last year may have cost them a key race, and consequently, control of the state Senate. The acknowledgement on Wednesday came as prosecutors filed theft charges against a former top campaign committee staffer.

Michael Walter King allegedly embezzled $250,000 from the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee to feed his alcohol and gambling habits. The former SDCC executive director has now been charged with eight counts of theft.

In a conference call with reporters, Democratic Sen. Sharon Nelson acknowledged the embezzlement might have been a deciding factor in a southwest Washington Senate race. The Democratic candidate there failed to win that seat by just 78 votes.

“If we had had those funds, we potentially could have been on TV and done a better job for Tim Probst, but that’s hindsight,” Nelson said.

Following that loss, two Democrats defected from their caucus and joined with Republicans to form a new majority coalition. Senate Democrats say they have now opened new campaign committees with new financial oversight systems in place.

A lawyer for Washington Senate Democrats says a plea deal with two years of recommended jail time for King is in the works. However, the King County Prosecutor’s Office would not confirm the deal. An email to King’s attorney was not returned.