Candidate for WA governor warned about profiting from campaign purchases

Loren Culp

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A northeastern Washington sheriff running for governor was warned by the state’s Public Disclosure Commission about using money from the sale of his book to prop up his campaign.

A complaint was first filed against Loren Culp in February 2020.

The PDC opened a formal investigation and found that Culp’s campaign purchased 732 copies of “American Cop” and used the books at a fundraiser, which resulted in the campaign receiving a total of $10,230 in net contributions from the proceeds of the sale.

According to the PDC’s General Counsel Sean Flynn, the PDC found Culp stood in a position to profit from goods sold to his own campaign.

“The sale of the book American Cop was directly related to Loren Culp’s campaign for Governor of Washington State, and was part of the campaign fundraising strategy. While the sales prices of the books sold to the Campaign were based on the fair market value, due to his ownership interest in American Cop, Mr. Culp nonetheless personally benefitted from the sale of the books purchased directly from the publisher at the wholesale price,” the PDC stated.

The PDC also added that it found a potential conflict of interest, but ultimately decided the allegation was a minor violation since this is Culp’s first time running for public office, there was a demand for his book before he declared he was running for governor and the campaign disclosed receiving the money made at the campaign event, which represented a small percentage of total campaign funds.

Ultimately, the PDC dismissed the case and issued Culp a formal warning that stated the issue would be considered by the commission if there were ever future violations of PDC laws and rules.

When asked for comment on the warning, Christopher Gergen, Culp’s campaign manager, said “The case was dismissed as clearly stated by the PDC due to no wrongdoing. The case documents are available to the public. Mr. Culp has nothing further to add and maintains he did nothing wrong and did not violate any PDC rules as evidenced by the ruling.”

Flynn said that dismissal does not necessarily support a conclusion of no violation. Flynn said, in this case, the PDC’s assessment that the allegations and surrounding facts offered support to a finding of a violation, but did not warrant pursuing formal enforcement action.