Battle Ground, Washington, the small town northeast of Vancouver may not have seen a historic battle, but they have no shortage of battles when it comes to elections and keeping citizens entertained, often just shaking their heads.
The latest involves City Council Member and former Mayor Michael Ciraulo over a campaign fundraising event, a ‘Poker Night’ that was held on September 14, 2013 at Galeotti’s Restaurant and claims of it being in violation of Washington State Gambling Law.
A citizen complaint sent to Battle Ground City Manager, John Williams alleged the event, “did not have [the proper] gambling license as mandated by the State of Washington.”
The complaint further alleges, “The City of Battle Ground prohibits card rooms inside the city limits. Chapter 9.26 Public Card rooms (Ordinance 598s2, 1987), contact had been made with the Gambling Commission and the Commission had an ‘open and active’ investigation ongoing due to previous complaints filed by others.”
Battle Ground City Council member Alex Reinhold expressed displeasure with the event on facebook several days prior to its being held, “Boy looking at all the political fundraiser is going on right now and one just struck me as completely inappropriate. We have one candidate running a drinking, poker tournament and cigar night as a fundraiser.”
When contacted by this blogger, Mr. Ciraulo replied, “I have not been contacted by the gambling commission and as far as I know, all of my fundraiser’s have complied with all applicable laws. I think it’s fair to say that politics can get ugly and anyone can allege anything at any time.”
A public records request has been submitted to the Washington State Gambling Commission for a copy of the case.
On September 18, 2013, an Op-Ed appeared in the Reflector, Battle Ground and Washougal communities can both see more of the ‘best of times’ written by both Michael Ciraulo and fellow Battle Ground City Council member Adrian Cortes, alleging a degree of wrongdoing on the part of other members of the city council in changing how Battle Ground selects their Mayor.
The Reflector informs of the City Council agitation in BG council upset with Cortes, Ciraulo
Washougal City Council member Brent Boger also added his condemnation of the Op-Ed in a Letter to the Editor.
A comment to me from another Battle Ground City Council member who supported that change informs me that “the investigation is almost done and there is no finding on the matter” alleged by Ciraulo and Cortes.
According to the Public Disclosure Commission report filed by the Ciraulo campaign, here and here, some well known names from the surrounding communities participated. They include Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and Vancouver City Council member Bart Hansen as well as political wannabe Mike Briggs.
Buy-in to the game was set at $50 and as would be expected in a poker game, featured plenty of cigars and alcohol, none of which has yet been declared in campaign expenses or as an in-kind contribution.
Although I have not yet received a copy of the report from the Gambling Commission, I was told that the Ciraulo campaign will likely receive a warning, since it does not appear to have been an intentional act and that contributions received possibly will have to be returned.
His opponent, Lyle Lamb was unable to be reached for comment.
This blog maintains its neutral stance in the Battle Ground races and takes no position of support or opposition for the candidates. But it is long past time for the Battle Ground City Council to realize they do have differences, as citizens would expect, and that the city does not benefit from such Soap Opera antics frequently seen.
Citizens of Battle Ground deserve adults on the city council that work through differences, not use those differences to beat each other over the head.
Who those adults should be is left in the capable hands of Battle Ground voters.