SHELTON — Mayor Gary Cronce used his City of Shelton computer and email address to solicit campaign funds for himself and Commissioner Kathy McDowell in 2015, a violation of the state Public Disclosure law.

PDC law states that no city facilities, directly or indirectly, can be used to campaign for any city elected position or issue.

Contacted Thursday, Cronce declined to comment.

Open records were acquired from the city by a proponent of Propostion 1, Jason “DangerCup” Coots.

If passed by voters in Tuesday’s election, Proposition 1 would allow the three-member city commission and manager, the last such form of city government in the state, to expand to a seven-member city council with a city manager.

Coots explained why he filed the open records request for all city commissioners’ emails sent to and from their city email addresses from Jan. 1, 2015 to present.

“It was because I was upset at the vote to not allow the people of Shelton to vote on the issue of the seven-person council, and I was upset about the mayor’s blatant disregard for the public disclosure rules,” Coots said.

Coots describes himself as a “concerned citizen” who petitioned for Proposition 1 after Cronce and McDowell voted against calling the election until petition signatures were received. Commissioner Tracy Moore supported calling the election so Shelton voters could decide their form of government.

Coots said the new emails he found show a history of PDC violations by Cronce, who is already under PDC review for making a statement against Proposition 1 during a city commissioners meeting, an alleged violation of PDC regulations.

Supporters, including former city Commissioner Mike Olsen, later acquired enough petition signatures from registered voters to call the election.

Coots, a native of Shelton and a lineman for a U.S. Department of Defense contractor, made the request records request in early October. He forwarded a sampling of the released email records to iFIBER One News this week.

One of the documents Coots forwarded reveals a conversation between Cronce and representatives of Hall Equities Group, the developers of the Shelton Hills commercial project proposed west of U.S. Highway 101 in Shelton.

“Brandon I really need $500 soon for my mayor’s race. Call me,” Cronce wrote via city government email to Hall Equities employee Brandon Farrell on Sept. 9, 2015.

The company later wrote back, saying the campaign donation was forthcoming, released records show.

A Sept. 2, 2015 city email Cronce sent to Hall Equities’ Alisa MacCormac states: “The limit of any campaign donations is $500. I would like that if possible. Kathy McDowell I’m sure would like one also. We just got endorsed by the Oly Master Builders.”

PDC spokeswoman Kim Bradford cited state law that confirmed Cronce appears to be in violation.

The law prohibits elected officials from using public facilities to assist a campaign,” she said.

“Our commission's interpretation of that statute says ‘agency computers, email systems, telephones, and other information technology systems shall not be used to aid a campaign for or against a candidate or ballot measure,’" Bradford said.

(12) comments

Brandt Orme

Cronce should resign immediately! There is no excuse for these violations of the Public Disclosure laws! He has received mandatory training when becoming elected officials that cover public disclosure laws thoroughly. He blatantly disregarding the law or he is too stupid to understand these clearly stated limitations. Either way he should resign immediately or should be recalled for cause.

Randy Lewis

Not sure it is fair to drag Kathy McDowell in this issue. Likely she was not aware of the Mayor's comments with respect to her, let alone that the comments were made using an official City email address.

Darrell Barker

I am in town nearly every day. I've run into "Not My Mayor" Cronce twice in the same amount of years. I initiated the "hello mayor" each time in return for a whimpering whispering hello and a nod and then the proverbial "back treatment."

I remember when a mayor in the 60's would approach her citizens first and inquire how things were going and "is there some concern of yours I need to know about?"

Not this mayor, we hear about him complaining about how no one comes to his public meetings. Could it be that he doesn't inspire his citizens to come?

Now, we all make mistakes, I've made a few a time or "two," so I don't loose my lunch over this email faux pas, though he should have known it was illegal, he has been a mayor of diligence for sometime now. That said, it might be time for him to put the gavel down and let another have a try at it.

I support the 7

ChrisInShelton

To be fair, the mayor should be aware of the law and not use public equipment for campaign purposes. Realistically, if you think this is the smoking gun that liberals have been looking for then get real. The examples in this article don't really change the election balance by giving the Mayor or Kathy an unfair advantage. The contributions would have been given anyway no matter what medium was used in the request.

Jason Coots

I agree, the smoking gun will be next week and you can say whatever you want about me, but don't call me liberal

Darrell Barker

You say that as if being liberal is a bad thing.

Brandt Orme

Not the point, all elected officials take mandatory training which lays out what they can and can dot do. The training is very explicit on Public Disclosure, election laws and campaigning. This is a willful disregard for the law for which Cronce should be recalled!

Jaymes Barnes

A law is a law....but man, this is a stretch. I think this is becoming a witch hunt.

Randy Crenshaw Sr

I don't agree with all of the mayor's decisions or actions but he's done a good job as mayor.
The last few years have been good for Shelton. We didn't get in the mess we are in during two terms and it will take longer to fix it (roads, deficit, water rates).
I'm not nearly as worried about him using the wrong e mail to talk to someone as I am about the ridiculous water rates, poor road conditions, ridiculous debt for a small city, etc.
All things the mayor had a direct hand in the progress that's been made. I'd hate to have him resign over something this stupid (he shouldn't have used that e mail to request the funds but it isn't like if he used his personal one they wouldn't have given them to him)
Then the next guy goes back to mortgaging my children's future to build water lines that go to noone and paying an engineer company 300,000$ to draw a water tower we only budgeted 500,000$ for.

Dwain Friedlander

Seems as if Hall Equities didn't have much difficulty funding some of the City of Shelton candidates, even as recent as the e-mails in this article suggest. Makes one wonder how many previous candidates / city officials were given money by Hall Equities for their "campaign".

With the impending Shelton Hills development moving forward, will be interesting to see what costs the City of Shelton will be absorbing with this project. Goose Lake cleanup, US101 interchange, end of runway development. All those new businesses and houses, just think of all those realtors licking their chops for this one.

ramiro flores

Time for someone to resign and take Kathy with him. We need a city government that listens.

Galgirl

Agreed. Too many issues where Cronce is either deliberately breaking the law, or ignorant of basic laws around campaigning. Personally, I don't think he's done much to improve Shelton. He's fought with our progressive commissioner every step of the way.. and not courteously.

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