Turmoil erupts on 'No Botkin' signs in county

One of the mysterious signs targeting the Tim Botkin for Central Kitsap  commissioner campaign. The sign has no discernible sponsor, which violates state statute. - Photo illustration by Sean Lamphere
One of the mysterious signs targeting the Tim Botkin for Central Kitsap commissioner campaign. The sign has no discernible sponsor, which violates state statute.
— image credit: Photo illustration by Sean Lamphere

The red-and-white signs that read “Vote No — Tim Botkin,” started to spring up mysteriously along Kitsap County roadways earlier this week — some as early as Monday.

Their appearance upset Republican candidate Patty Lent, who is running against Botkin, a Democratic incumbent, for county commissioner.

Their race appears on the Nov. 5 general ballot.

“I’m running my campaign on a positive note,” Lent said, “and I’m using trust and integrity in every piece of my campaign literature. These signs undermine my message in my campaign efforts.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Lent filed a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission about the appearance of these signs, which are decorated in the same colors used to craft her campaign signs.

“These signs are very offensive to me as to my opponent. There is no party affiliation, campaign position or identity of who is responsible for constructing or placing these signs,” the letter read. “Neither I nor my campaign committee have any knowledge of this activity nor would we sanction this type of negative campaigning.”

Meanwhile, Botkin said he doesn’t blame Lent for the signs.

Still, Botkin said he’s disturbed that people would stoop to such levels.

“They are illegal signs, and they go well beyond the bounds of what elections are supposed to be about,” Botkin said. “A negative approach is something I wouldn’t want to engage in.”

The signs are in violation of public disclosure laws because they do not name the party affiliation of the candidate mentioned on the sign, said Doug Ellis, a spokesman with PDC.

Whoever paid for the signs needs to file an expenditure report with the PDC, by the end of the week — if $100 or more was spent.

But if an actual committee has formed, and has pooled its resources to oppose a candidate, that group needs to file with the commission, as well.

If the deadlines for filing pass, the commission could launch an investigation especially since Lent filed a complaint.

Civil fines of up to $2,500 could be imposed.

“My first thing was to call the elections office to see what I should do about it,” Lent said. “There was no identification on the signs to indicate where they were printed. Right now, I can’t do anything with the signs. Whoever paid for them has a couple of days to file with the PDC. If they file, then I am not permitted to touch them. If they don’t file, I will direct my sign crew to pick them up wherever they find them.”

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