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Activists settle issues with PDC

LESSON LEARNED: Olympia Citizens for Pure Water repay the 1998 campaign loan that landed them in hot water.

Brad Shannon, The Olympian

OLYMPIA — Anti-fluoridation activists have repaid a campaign loan from 1998 that got them in trouble with state elections officials and now say they will disband their organization, Olympia Citizens for Pure Water.

“I’ve learned my lesson,” said Michael Clark, the campaign’s treasurer.

He joked Wednesday that he has learned he should let someone else handle duties as treasurer the next time he gets involved in a campaign.

The grass-roots political group was fined $500 last year by the state Public Disclosure Commission for failing to make timely reports of its contributions during the 1998 campaign against a measure fluoridating Olympia’s water supply.

The PDC suspended the fine on condition the group repaid the final $667.42 owed from a $2,332.54 loan from Thurston County resident Vera Drew by Dec. 31.

“They did meet the terms of the suspension, so we will be closing the file,” Phil Stutzman, who is the compliance and enforcement coordinator for the PDC, said Wednesday.

The final $332 was paid back on Sept. 29, and paperwork attesting that the loan was repaid was filed Dec. 30 with the PDC, Stutzman said.

Voters by a 52 percent majority rejected the fluoridation measure, despite a well-financed campaign by dentists and doctors who spent $54,750 and focused on the scientific evidence that fluoride protects teeth from decay.

Opponents of the fluoridation measure spent $2,571.38, according to PDC records.

A yard sale in June raised most of the money to repay the loan, Clark said, adding that he and other campaign advocates “ponied up” the last few hundred dollars out of their own pockets.

Olympia Citizens for Pure Water is disbanding once its PDC issues are formally settled, according to Clark.

However, some of the same activists could form a new group or get involved in fighting a new proposal by a state dental group to require fluoridation in public water systems with more than 1,000 hookups, he said.

Brad Shannon is political editor for The Olympian. He can be reached at 753-1688.

The Olympian Copyright 2000