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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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September 16, 2006 3:12 PM

Joe Fuiten's robo call for conservative judges

Posted by David Postman

I just got a recorded call from Joseph Fuiten, pastor of Ceder Park Church in Bothell and chairman and CEO of the Faith & Freedom Network.

(UPDATE: Fuiten e-mails to say that he is no longer heading Faith & Freedom, but is doing his "overt political work" through two PACS he operates, Committee for Religious Freedom and Committee for Judicial Restraint. )

He was talking too fast for me to take complete notes, but he was urging me to vote for John Groen, Steve Johnson and Jeanette Burrage. He listed several things that he said that if I didn't want, I should vote for his slate. I wrote down three, gay marriage, a judge who left the scene of an accident -- a clear reference to Justice Tom Chambers who's being challenged by Burrage -- and, curiously, driving drunk.

None of the incumbent judges up for election this year have been accused of drunken driving. Justice Bobbe Bridge was, and the Building Industry Association of Washington has attacked Chief Justice Gerry Alexander for saying the court supported Bridge following her arrest.

But Fuiten's message would leave the clear impression to someone not familiar with the court that a justice running this year had faced a charge of driving while drunk. That seems pretty misleading.

On gay marriage, Alexander voted to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and did not support gay marriage. In fact, after the court ruled Fuiten said Alexander's stance changed the dynamic of his race against Groen:

There were two legs under Groen, one was gay marriage and one was property rights," Fuiten said. "He lost one leg."

Backers of Groen complained last week that an ad from Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, who support Alexander, were wrong to say that Groen was backed by people who "oppose stem cell research and a woman's right to choose." Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the BIAW, said Fuiten had done nothing to help Groen but unsuccessfully recruit workers for the campaign. Clearly now he has done more.

The phone call ended with the disclosure of who paid for it and the top donors, as required for independent expenditures. It all went too fast for me to catch, though.


Jon A. DeVore got the same call, and recorded it. I just listened to it and transcribed it.

Joe Fuiten here on why your vote matters.

If you believe your property belongs to you and not the government, if you don't want court-imposed gay marriage, if you don't want courts changing the definition of parenthood, if you don't want justices who drive drunk, leave the scene of an accident or don't follow the law, then please vote for John Groen, Stephen Johnson and Jeanette Burrage for the Supreme Court.

They wont legislate from the bench. Groen, Johnson and Burrage are not activist judges. They'll protect the constitution and follow the law,

This message paid for by the Committee for Judicial Restraint. Top contributor, Committee for Religious Freedom.

The Committee for Religious Freedom has reported a total of $15,250 in donations. The Public Disclosure Commission reports show that $250 came from Fuiten's Faith & Freedom Network. The rest came earlier this month from Lynwood homebuilder Larry Sundquist and his wife, Diane.

The Sundquists are already major players in the homebuilders' efforts in court races this year. They gave Groen $25,000 before new campaign limits went into effect for this campaign season and $32,500 to Change PAC, one of the BIAW political action committees which fund ad campaigns for Groen.

UPDATE: You can listen to the call here.

UPDATE: Fuiten responded to a question I e-mailed him about the call and specifically what he meant by raising the issue of drunken driving. He said:

My comments were general to the court and not tied to any one judge. I am concerned for the low standard being set by this court, evidenced by the hit and run and drunk driving, which is what I was speaking to.

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Alexander's campaign criticized Fuiten's recorded calls and the reference to Bridge:

But this year's Supreme Court elections have no bearing on whether Justice Bobbe Bridge retains her seat. Justice Bridge is not on the 2006 ballot. Stu Morgan, campaign manager for Justice Alexander, said, "I'm just amazed at the levels to which they will sink. The fact that John Groen has refused to repudiate these gutter tactics should be of great concern to voters indicate to voters that Justice Alexander needs to be re-elected if we want to keep fairness and integrity on the bench."

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