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Postman on Politics

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

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October 31, 2007 3:51 PM

Ethel Adams and her insurance company

Posted by David Postman

Regular readers of the Times may remember Ethel Adams. Danny Westneat wrote about her here, here, here, and here. Adams was seriously injured when she was hit by, as Westneat wrote, "a crazed man named Michael Testa, who was trying to run his girlfriend's truck off the road."

Farmers decided the policies covering Adams didn't apply to anything Testa did because he caused the five-car pileup on purpose. Essentially Farmers said it was not an accident, even for Adams, who was just passing by.

Now Ms. Adams is part of a political campaign. The trial lawyers backing Referendum 67 have a new TV ad running that features Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler talking about Adams and her battle with Farmers Insurance.

"She was an innocent driver severely injured by a road-rage incident. She was in a coma and disabled for life.

"But her insurance company still denied her claim.

"That's why we need R-67: to make it illegal to deny legitimate claims."

The Reject 67 campaign — funded by the insurance industry — says the ad is deceptive. The campaign spokeswoman, Dana Childers, put out a press release that makes Ethel Adams' case sound like an example of a responsive and good-hearted insurance company at work, not a cold, corporate Grinch.

Childers reminds voters that Ethel Adams received the full benefits of her insurance policy. Ambiguities in the law complicated delivery of her policy coverage, but once the facts were revealed, coverage was promptly provided.

Not exactly. It took several columns by Danny, TV coverage and a lot of talk radio outrage to get Farmers to reconsider. And even then it was likely a direct threat from Kreidler to pull the company's license to do business in Washington state that got Adams her money.

It is unclear whether the law at stake in R-67 would cover a case with the same circumstances as Adams'. Part of her claim had been rejected, but another was technically still open.

But there is no question that the case should not be held up as example of some eleemosynary act by Farmers.

Farmers itself took a similar approach when it gave in and paid Adams. Westneat wrote then about how the company claimed it had been "diligent in the actions it has taken to respond to this claim since the beginning." And it was clear that some Farmers' employees weren't proud of their company.

Eight local Farmers agents and administrators called or wrote me, all expressing disgust at the company's handling of the case. Some said they are typically proud of their work and were feeling demoralized.

I asked Danny what he thought about Childer's statementthe ad. He said it was a bit of revisionist history. And he shared with me some e-mail between him and Childers. Danny wrote first:

Wow. I have seen a lot of spin in my day, but that one just about takes the cake. ... Coverage was only "promptly provided" after Farmers had the hell beaten out of it in the newspaper and on radio and after Kreidler threatened to pull their license to do business in the state.

We could also go over all the e-mails I have from Farmers Insurance's own employees decrying the actions of their company in that case. If you want.

Childers responded, in part:

The technical glitch with the law is what brought on the language regarding Mr. Testa; nothing more, nothing less. And it's critical to remember shortly after the accident, Ms. Adams was assured of $2 million of coverage that was available to her. This situation was so unique and troubling for all concerned that the insurance industry and the Insurance Commissioner worked with the legislature to pass "Ethel's law" that changed the law to allow coverage in these kinds of situations.

And Westneat, showing some frustration and conceding the issue was bugging him:

It is absolutely not true that "shortly after the accident, Ms. Adams was assured of $2 million of coverage." She was hit in March, and in October, the company still hadn't paid her a penny and had only denied parts of the claim. It was also in October that a Farmers attorney said this, to me: "Liability insurance is only for accidents, and this wasn't an accident." Does that sound like a company that is assuring anyone of coverage? No, it is a company that is denying coverage.

And that makes the case a better model for the trial lawyers backing R-67 then the insurance industry hoping voters repeal the law next week.

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October 31, 2007 2:26 PM

Burgess & his money set new city campaign record

Posted by David Postman

City hall reporter Bob Young sends this report:

Tim Burgess has set a new record for City Council fundraising, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission records.

Burgess, who is challenging incumbent David Della, has raised $279,810. The previous high of $273,885 was set by incumbent Richard Conlin in 2005, who broke former Councilwoman Heidi Wills' 2003 record of $256,617.

There is one important distinction between Burgess' and Conlin's record amounts. Conlin did not sink any of his own money into his re-election bid. Burgess has plowed $67,865 of his own money into his campaign so far, according to commission records.

Burgess' opponent, Della, has raised $242,307, including $10,000 of his own.

The previous best for a challenger was $251,458 raised by Tom Rasmussen in his 2003 campaign against incumbent Margaret Pageler. Rasmussen contributed $81,695 to his own effort that year.

Despite the record-breaking surge by Burgess, who once chaired the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, the total amount raised by council candidates this year may fall short of the last two elections.

Through Oct. 22 of this year, all council candidates (primary and general elections) had raised a total of $1.7 million. In 2005, the council candidates' cumulative total was $1.84 million, and in 2003 it was $1.93 million.


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October 31, 2007 1:49 PM

Rep. Curtis resigns

Posted by David Postman

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt just released this statement:

"I am very disappointed by the news reports of the conduct by Rep. Curtis last week in Spokane. After discussing this matter with House Republican leaders, he has submitted his resignation, which we feel is best for everyone involved. The troubling details continue to emerge, however, it has become clear that he can no longer effectively represent the constituents who elected him. We pray that Richard and his family have the strength and support they need to meet the personal challenges they face."

MORE: And here's a statement from Curtis just released by House Republicans:

Today I submitted my letter of resignation to Governor Gregoire effective immediately. While I believe we've done some good and helped a lot of people during the time I served in the Legislature, events that have recently come to light have hurt a lot of people. I sincerely apologize for any pain my actions may have caused.

"This has been damaging to my family, and I don't want to subject them to any additional pain that might result from carrying out this matter under the scrutiny that comes with holding public office."

MORE: House Republicans have already removed Curtis from the legislative website. No bio, no homepage and his name is gone from the list of members.

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October 31, 2007 9:47 AM

Curtis told cops a lot, but tried to keep tryst quiet

Posted by David Postman

Apparently the news about Larry Craig didn't make it to La Center. That's where Republican Rep. Richard Curtis lives. There's really no other way to figure out why Curtis thought he could call the cops, tell them every little detail of his sexual encounter with a man he picked up at an "erotic boutique," and expect the matter would be kept quiet. Craig, of course, thought that pleading guilty in Minneapolis would keep his alleged airport bathroom cruising quiet.

But from the start of Curtis' trouble — when he awoke in Spokane's fanciest hotel after a night of sex with a man known in some circles as "Stallion" who said he had left with Curtis' wallet and explicit photos of the legislator — he was hoping to control the damage to his reputation and his marriage. Curtis didn't call the Spokane cops. Instead, he called a friend in the Washington State Patrol on the other side of the mountains because, a police report says, he worried "the local police would talk and it would get out to the press."

The State Patrol is not the Legislature's private police force and the trooper called his superiors who made sure the Spokane Police Department was contacted. And once Curtis made his call, it was impossible that his troubles would remain a private matter. It's all in the report written by a Spokane detective after he, another local cop and a State Patrol officer, showed up at the hotel to talk with Curtis.

Curtis stated he only wanted his wallet back and wanted to keep the incident as low key as possible. He did not want to pursue charges.

What's odd about this case — among many other things — is it is not clear if there was any wrongdoing on Curtis' part that would threaten his career. Certainly his activities will embarrass him and his family. And I don't think anyone can help but feel sorry for his wife and children who have to deal with the fallout of this. But Curtis is not being charged with any crime and could have been a victim himself. With Larry Craig, it was his guilty plea that Republican Senate leaders leaned on in calling for his immediate resignation.

That said, look for Curtis to soon announce he's quitting the Legislature. His personal life is obviously in turmoil and it is difficult to imagine he can manage to do the public's business under these circumstances.

For some reason Curtis told police a story with great detail about his night with Cody Castagna. He told them where they met, what they did, where they did it, and where in the hotel room police could find DNA evidence of his tryst. He volunteered to give a swab of his cheek so police could have a sample of his DNA. He didn't seem to hold anything back, though he waved investigators away from the bag with the nylon rope and toy stethoscope in it, saying it had nothing to do with the matter at hand. The detective wrote in his report:

I told Curtis that I wanted to collect evidence in this case so that it could be secured in case it was ever needed in the future. If he wished no further action taken, I would still have any critical evidence in case he changed his mind or the suspect continued to threaten Curtis in the future. I told Curtis that the toothpaste was already out of the tube. Curtis told me he was just trying to "put the cap back on the tube." I told Curtis that the suspect may victimize other people in the future and Curtis acknowledged that part of his job was to protect people in the State of Washington. Lt. McGovern told Curtis no matter what happened, we would have to document the case in report form regardless of whether or not the case was prosecuted. Curtis said he wished he would have just paid the additional money to the suspect because he didn't wish the case to be prosecuted. If the incident became public it could cost him his marriage and career.

Curtis hasn't said anything about the Spokane incident except to tell the editor of the Columbian that he is not gay, did not have sex with a man, and did nothing wrong. He has hired one of the state's most prominent defense attorneys, Seattle's John Wolfe. Wolfe is currently representing Ben Stevens, the Alaska politician and son of Sen. Ted Stevens, whose name has come up in that state's burgeoning political scandal.

As for Curtis' political career, Republican leaders aren't saying much. House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt is expected to release a statement later today. House Republicans aren't really ignoring the story. In the e-mailed compilation of news stories the caucus sends out each morning, there are nine about Curtis. The Columbian talked to a few local GOP officials who mostly expressed the sort of shock you'd expect, like this from Ryan Hart, vice chairman of the Clark County Republican Party.

"He's been a great representative, and at this time all I can say is we are stunned by the news," Hart said. "Our main concern right now is the Curtis family. It's important to set politics aside while this matter is sorted out."

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October 30, 2007 4:08 PM

Sherman asked prosecutors for campaign cash

Posted by David Postman

Democrat Bill Sherman criticized acting County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican, in Sunday's Times for taking money from spouses of his employees. Sherman thinks that's a dodge around Satterberg's self-imposed ban on donations or even endorsements from employees.

Sherman has made the same pledge, and told Times reporter Stuart Eskenazi that his was a "commitment with meaning, not just words." But supporters of Satterberg from within the prosecutor's office sent Eskenazi copies of e-mails that Sherman sent them early in the campaign looking for money and endorsements.

"Please consider making a financial contribution to the campaign. ... Please join the growing list of people and organizations endorsing and supporting my campaign."

The e-mails were part of a mass mailing Sherman made to donors of his failed 2006 campaign for the state House. Sherman told Eskenazi he culled through the list of about 2,000 supporters before sending out the e-mails, hoping to exclude any recipient who works at the prosecutor's office. But at least a couple got through. Sherman said:

"There may have been some people in the office who received a mass e-mail, that may be true. But had any of them responded to it with a contribution or endorsement, I would have refused them."

Sherman is also refusing offers from co-workers to volunteer for his campaign, while Satterberg last week said he accepts behind-the-scenes "sweat equity" support from his staffers.

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October 30, 2007 2:56 PM

Police say lawmaker had sex with extortion suspect

Posted by David Postman

Court records released today have more details on the alleged extortion attempt against Republican state Rep. Richard Curtis. The Columbian reports
that Curtis met Cody M. Castagna at the Hollywood Erotic Boutique past midnight Thursday and they later went together to Curtis' hotel room. Curtis has deined having sex with the man.

However, Detective Mark Burbridge of the Spokane Police Department, in a signed affidavit, concluded that Curtis and Castagna engaged in mutual sexual activities, after which Curtis fell asleep. Burbridge's affadavit is based on interviews with both men.

The affidavit alleges Castagna left the hotel room with Curtis' wallet. He later called the state lawmaker and offered to return it in exchange for money, Burbridge said in his affidavit.

"Cody Castagna also threatened to publicly expose Richard Curtis' gay lifestyle to his wife," the detective wrote. "Richard Curtis said he said he only had $200, which Cody Castagna demanded Richard Curtis give to him. Richard Curtis left an envelope at the front desk of the Davenport Towers Hotel containing the $200.

UPDATE: KXLY TV has lots more details.

State Representative Richard Curtis says he's not gay, but police reports and court records indicate the Republican lawmaker from southwestern Washington dressed up in women's lingerie and met a Medical Lake man in a local erotic video store which led to consensual sex at a downtown hotel and a threat to expose Curtis' activities publicly.

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October 30, 2007 8:57 AM

Who told Dino about telldino.com?

Posted by David Postman

I wondered last week when it was that Dino Rossi officially became a candidate when it turned out that his new website, telldino.com, had been registered Sept. 8, six weeks before his announcement.

If the website was registered with Rossi's consent he would have had to file a declaration of candidacy with the Public Disclosure Commission a month earlier than he did. Rossi advisor J. Vander Stoep says telldino.com was his idea, that he suggested to campaign manager Afton Swift that the domain name be registered, and it was done without Rossi's knowledge.

He sent me an e-mail last night saying Rossi told him he would run again on Oct. 11. But long before that, Vander Stoep said he was thinking about the "what if" possibilities of a second campaign and a possible Rossi Administration.

I

knew from my experience that Dino is critical of the incumbent for always coming down on the side against public disclosure of records. I also learned during the transition in 2004 that the incumbent has been part of the team running the state agencies for a generation and that his election would be treated by many of those people as a hostile takeover. With that, I suggested to Afton Swift that a friend of Dino obtain the "telldino" web name in case he decided to run. The idea was to create a vehicle so that citizens can go over the heads of the agencies and tell the Governor directly about their concerns with state government. My thought was that Governor Rossi would use this idea. I didn't tell Dino that the site was obtained. There wasn't any reason to tell him prior to his deciding to run.

The fact is that he learned of the idea -- and the web name -- as he was preparing his kickoff speech. Dino said "we shouldn't wait -- we should create this website now to find out more about what is going on inside state government."

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October 30, 2007 8:18 AM

GOP lawmaker victim of extortion attempt

Posted by David Postman

State Rep. Richard Curtis, a Republican from southwest Washington, is apparently a victim of an alleged extortion plot. The story is frustratingly vague at this point, but it involves another man and something that happened last week in Spokane while Republican state lawmakers were having a retreat in the city.

Curtis says he's not gay and has done nothing wrong. The reason he felt compelled to tell the editor of the Columbian that, is yesterday the Spokesman-Review reported that the alleged extortionist was a "reputed male prostitute." That paper said that fact was confirmed by police. But today police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe is quoted as saying that's not the case.

DeRuwe said the initial complaint to police suggested prostitution may have been involved. But after further investigation throughout the weekend, she said Monday, without elaborating, "It does not appear that prostitution was involved."

A story in the Vancouver Columbian has DeRuwe sounding even more vague about what happened.

"Obviously there is some sort of relationship between the two of them," she said. "Obviously one of them is a suspect and one is the victim."

Curtis yesterday spoke with Columbian editor Lou Brancaccio.

"I committed no crime," Curtis said Monday afternoon. "I did not solicit sex. I was trying to help somebody out."

...

"I am not gay," he told Brancaccio. "I have not had sex with a guy."

The headline on that story:

Curtis denies wrongdoing, says he is not gay

Curtis is expected to release a statement today.

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October 29, 2007 2:30 PM

The source of Ted Stevens' problems is an old pal

Posted by David Postman

In Anchorage, oil man Bill Allen said in court today that part of his plea deal with the feds included helping them investigate Sen. Ted Stevens. The Anchorage Daily News political blog has that and more from the corruption trial of former state Rep. Vic Kohring.

Also, from the courtroom, former Daily News editorial page editor Michael Carey is providing commentary, including this from a column slated to run tomorrow:

As a legislator, Vic displayed minimal brain power and an unwillingness to learn. He mastered a few conservative slogans before he entered the Legislature and that was the extent of his knowledge. He was prepared to give the oil companies hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks because he self-righteously and piously believed oil industry good, government bad.

I have watched the Alaska Legislature for 40 years. Vic Kohring is the only lawmaker I have ever seen who learned nothing during his years of service. He was the same person the day he departed as the day he entered.


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October 29, 2007 2:13 PM

WASL supporter worries test has become a sham

Posted by David Postman

This could be the most compelling argument I've heard against the state of student testing in Washington state.

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October 28, 2007 8:23 AM

Missed opportunities for Rossi and Gregoire

Posted by David Postman

There's a niche to be filled in the governor's race: The straight talker. As of today, either Democrat Chris Gregoire or Republican challenger Dino Rossi could fill the spot. Neither seems ready, though.

In Rossi's long announcement speech last week there were plenty of specifics on issues that he says he'll focus on in his rematch against the governor. And in question time with reporters afterwards, he gave his thoughts on this year's crop of ballot measures.

But he wouldn't to tell reporters what he thought about the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP, one of the most controversial political issues of recent weeks. The Stranger's Josh Feit asked the question and posted Rossi's answer on The Slog:

"I'm not in Congress. I didn't talk about health care in my speech. I gave you all lots of new stuff that you haven't had before. There's a lot to write about."

In fact, he did talk about health care in his speech. But he felt he had dished enough stuff already and wouldn't answer the question. What Rossi did say echoed his favorite response when asked about abortion in 2004:

"I'm not running for U.S. Supreme Court."

Of course you don't have to be on the Supreme Court to have an opinion about abortion and you don't have to be in Congress to have a position about S-CHIP. The state Legislature passed a bill expanding the program and it was signed by the governor, the job Rossi is, in fact, running for.

Knowing Rossi's position on S-CHIP would tell us something. Not only was it a chance to show a distinction between him and Gregoire, he would have to distinguish himself from some of his fellow Republicans. Does he stand with President Bush who thinks the bill was a step toward socialized medicine? Or is he more aligned with the likes of Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, who voted for the bill and to override Bush's veto, but talked of being "dismayed that both parties allowed an issue as important as children's health insurance to devolve into such a bitter, partisan battle." Either answer would have helped place Rossi on the political spectrum.

Don't misunderstand. I don't think candidates or politicians are required to answer questions. There's no First Amendment guarantee of that. And politicians should say "I don't know" more often. That's an answer, and sometimes the most honest. Rossi could have said he hadn't thought about it enough and would respond later. But instead he suggested the question was out of bounds, either because it should be asked only of Congressional candidates or because it was not an issue covered in his speech.

It was a missed opportunity to go beyond easy rhetoric.

It was also an opportunity because Gregoire sometimes has a hard time giving straight answers to easy questions. Thursday she was asked again if she was running for re-election.

"You know, if you can't tell how much I love this job;" but the sentence went unfinished.

"We can talk politics and we can talk campaigns after the Legislative session."

First off, the question shouldn't be asked any more. Of course she's running. And I don't understand why she doesn't say it, saying something like, "Of course I'm running. I love this job. I'm not going to be coy about this. I'm in. My family is ready to do this again. I have already raised $3 million from people who want me to stay another term and worry that my Republican opponent would undo the progress we've made. Of course I'm running. But I have to get busy with the 2008 Legislative session, and when that's over next spring I'll make a formal announcement and get back into campaign mode."

When she says we can talk politics and campaigns next spring, what she means is unless you have money to give her campaign now. She talks politics in fundraising solicitations and at her big-ticket fundraisers in both Washingtons.

She's created parallel worlds where the well-heeled talk politics with Candidate Gregoire while Governor Gregoire tells the masses she must stay above politics. Candidate Gregoire writes fundraising letters saying its shameful Republicans oppose health care. Governor Gregoire maintains children's health care is not a partisan issue.

When the cherry trees blossom around the Capitol next year she'll be ready to tell the rest of us why she wants a second term.

Until then, there's something we in the press corps can do to help. There's no need to ask the governor is she running for re-election. She is. She's filed the paperwork saying so with the Public Disclosure Commission. We don't need to be coy about this, either

The campaign is on.

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October 26, 2007 3:12 PM

When did Rossi become a candidate?

Posted by David Postman

On Sept. 8, a former Dino Rossi campaign staffer registered the Web site telldino.com, which the candidate made much of in his announcement speech Thursday.

Rossi campaign spokeswoman Jill Strait says the candidate did not ask Swanson to register the Web site that has become central to Rossi's campaign. She also said Swanson, who was on the Rossi payroll in 2004 and briefly in 2005, is not part of the campaign this time.

So what? Well, if that expense — and it doesn't matter how small — was done with Rossi's consent, then he would have had to register as a candidate more than a month ago. The law says someone becomes a candidate when he or she

(a) Receives contributions or makes expenditures or reserves space or facilities with intent to promote his or her candidacy for office;

(b) Announces publicly or files for office;

(c) Purchases commercial advertising space or broadcast time to promote his or her candidacy; or

(d) Gives his or her consent to another person to take on behalf of the individual any of the actions in (a) or (c) of this subsection

And once one of those things is triggered, a candidate has two weeks to file paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission and start reporting expenses and contributions.

It may not even matter what Swanson did. The question could be moot because Rossi did file a 2008 declaration of candidacy, back in 2005 when he was raising money to challenge his defeat to Christine Gregoire. But if Rossi says that's what covers him on this technicality, then what about his claim that he was not a candidate while promoting his non-profit Forward Washington? He submitted his resignation to that post Sept. 11.

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October 26, 2007 11:58 AM

Rossi's hint at a more populist campaign

Posted by David Postman

There are two words in particular that jumped out at me in Dino Rossi's announcement speech: "biggest businesses." Those words may signal a very different sort of campaign in the Republican's second try for the governor's mansion.

It's a hint at a sort of economic populism that Washington hasn't seen from Republican gubernatorial candidates. Instead, the GOP has sold itself as the party that would be best for businesses of all sizes and stripes; the party that would have made Boeing headquarters safe in Washington, let Microsoft thrive and give all big business the sort of stability it craves in government.

That's the path Rossi followed in 2004 when he first ran against Christine Gregoire.

Rossi is only dipping his (well-shod) toe into the waters of anti-corporate populism. Yet Thursday in Issaquah, Rossi described big business as part of the Gregoire Establishment.

"The big unions, the big trial lawyers and the biggest businesses — they like things just the way they are. Their money is pouring into her campaign.

"They are going to come after us hard.

"The crowd that has controlled state government for a generation does not intend to give up power without a fight."



There are a couple of obvious reasons why Rossi is distancing himself from big business. The first is that big business does pretty well under Gregoire, as it did under previous Democratic governors, as well. And big businesses are part of the establishment. There's no debate about that. And they want to keep it that way. And that means those businesses are likely to back Gregoire over Rossi rather than covering their bets with both sides, as many did in 2004.

Rossi got plenty of big-business money in his first run, including from Boeing and Weyerhaeuser. Neither made a corporate donation to Gregoire in 2004. Now, though, Weyerhaeuser has already given $1,000 to Gregoire's re-election. Boeing hasn't yet, but employees of the company have given her more than $6,000.

If you're not going to get the big business money, why not run against it? That could appeal to blue collar Democrats and voters who have yet to feel the full effects of a strong state economy. That's in addition, obviously, to galvanizing the Republican base with a message that would sound different than the party's standard — and more often that not, losing — strategy of being businesses' best friend forever.

Already Rossi has put himself at odds with corporate Washington on one of this year's major issues. Rossi says he plans to vote against the roads and transit ballot measure that has gotten major funding from Boeing, Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser and large employers in the area.

I question, though, the resolve. Republicans have flirted with this before. But it doesn't stick. The most obvious incursion into separating Wall Street from Main Street businesses came in 1999 when then-state GOP Chairman Dale Foreman compared Boeing to Al Capone and his gangsters. Foreman said the company threatened to cut off funding the party if it backed Tim Eyman's Initiative 695.

Less than two weeks after Foreman stepped down, his replacement, Don Benton, was on his way to Boeing to make sure there weren't any hard feelings. He met with other business lobbyists, too, where he said in a post-populism luncheon:

"Lay out your fears. Lay out your concerns. What can the party do for you?"

And already this year, some of the businesses that might think Rossi's barb is aimed at them have given to the state Republican Party. How far can he go without risking what is still a lucrative vein for the party?

Rossi will have at least one strong advocate in his corner if he decides to triangulate off Gregoire and big business. Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Washington, has long argued that the Boeings of the world are too comfortable having Democrats in charge. (McCabe is also one of Rossi's strongest supporters and an ardent opponent of all things Gregoire.) He wrote in a 2002 edition of his association's newsletter:

"Boeing has no allegiance to Republican principles of free enterprise, entrepreneurship and personal responsibility. Instead, the company's only motivation is to selfishly win special favors and tax breaks from the big government it helped create.

"If there's any fight Boeing ever fought on principle, what is it?"

Will we hear anything like that from Rossi? That would make for an interesting race.

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October 25, 2007 4:41 PM

What really bugs Sharkansky about Satterberg

Posted by David Postman

Stefan Sharkansky is now on part five of his series, "The Uninspiring King County Prosecutor's Race." Today he has a long post detailing a complaint he filed with the prosecutor's office about — this won't surprise you — alleged unlawful ballot counting in King County. Sharkansky has all the details in his post. But this is the summary that has him less than inspired about Satterberg.

But Dan Satterberg wouldn't investigate. Not because there wasn't a case, but citing the conflict that an attorney on his staff was involved. So he wouldn't ask the Sheriff to interview any of the identified witnesses. Nor would he refer the matter to another prosecuting agency as would have been appropriate. He swept the complaint under the rug because it was inconvenient.

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October 25, 2007 11:12 AM

Rossi announces

Posted by David Postman

Dino Rossi is now making his entrance into the governor's race official. Earlier he talked to the AP and KOMO TV.

He said he has moved on from his razor-thin loss to Gov. Christine Gregoire, and is launching a different sort of campaign today.

"Running against an incumbent is very different than running for an open seat because now an incumbent has a record," Rossi said in an interview with KOMO News. "It's fair to compare and contrast what the incumbent's done with what you want to do."

Rossi said he's upbeat about his chance.

"In 2004, I was introducing myself to the public and probably 80 percent of the people thought `Dino Rossi' was some kind of wine," he said in the interview. "Now that Gregoire is an incumbent, I will compare and contrast what she has done and what I will do. She has left a trail of broken promises."

I asked Rossi's campaign staff Wednesday if it'd be possible to get a copy of the remarks this morning. His spokeswoman, Jill Strait, said they would not be releasing anything other than a video of his speech that would be posted on the campaign Web site later.

But apparently some reporters were given an advance look at the speech. (I'm not sure what I did to already be out of favor even before Rossi announces.) The AP story says:

In comments prepared for his kickoff announcement, he took direct aim at Gregoire and described himself as a new leader for a new era.

"The state government we set out to change four years ago is more expensive and less effective at solving our problems," Rossi said. "It's going to take new leadership in Olympia."

He said he'll speak out against what he sees as Gregoire's biggest failures, including tax and budget policy, transportation, foster care, education financing, and dealing with criminals. He said he'll offer effective leadership on all those issues.

"The governor for the government has had her turn. We can do better," he said.

"This isn't just another election. It isn't just about Christine Gregoire or Dino Rossi. It's about whether we have the courage to try something new."

I will be interested to see if he offers any details today on those issues he lists as Gregoire's failures. Election day is a long way off, but we haven't heard much specific from Rossi in a long time and I hope we'll be able to start filling in some gaps.

MORE: Strait says that reporters were given quotes from the speech in a press release. The text of the speech was handed out to those who attended the session, but it won't be e-mailed to others. I've never seen a campaign, or any other organization, making such a distinction.


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October 25, 2007 7:41 AM

Valley hospital chief could get record fine

Posted by David Postman

The Public Disclosure Commission today will consider an agreement with two Valley Medical Center officials that would mean the largest out-of-court settlement in state history. As Sonia Krishnan reports this morning in the Times:

Rich Roodman, president and chief executive officer of the Renton hospital, and Barbara Mitchell, administrator of organizational development, have admitted to misspending nearly $500,000 in public money to pass a tax levy and annexation proposal. Under state law, public entities cannot use tax dollars to campaign.

"We now understand that we were wrong and made mistakes," Mitchell said Wednesday. "We're now trying to rectify them as best as we can."

I wrote about the public hospital's illegal campaigning in June.

Roodman is taking the big hit. He signed an agreement that calls for a $195,000 fine, with $75,.000 of that suspended if he uses non-public funds to pay the fine and avoids any other violations for four years. He also agrees to repay the hospital district $155,000 for the public money he improperly spent on the campaign.

Mitchell, under a separate agreement, would pay a $500 fine and repay $18,832 in improper campaign expenses. The agreement said her violation was unintentional.

The timing of the PDC meeting could boost the campaigns of two candidates for Public Hospital District No. 1. A five-member commission serves as the board of the medical center.

The illegal campaigning has been a centerpiece of the campaigns by Sue Bowman and Anthony Hemstad who are taking on long-time incumbents. Bowman is running against Gary Kohlwes. Kohlwes is the retired Renton School District superintendent and has been on the hospital commission since 1995.

Hemstad, who has chronicled the hospital's troubles on his campaign Web site,
is running against Commission President Carole Anderson, a real estate property manager. She has been on the commission since 1988.

There is also a new complaint against the hospital. Activist Chris Clifford recently alleged in a PDC complaint that the hospital misspent public money when it sent out a "special edition" brochure with photos of the incumbent board. He says that looks like campaigning on behalf of Kohlwes and Anderson.

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October 24, 2007 2:31 PM

A look at the credibility of insurance rate study

Posted by David Postman

One of the central disputes in the campaign over Referendum 67 is whether insurance rates would go up as a result of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. Insurers, who want the law repealed and have poured millions into the Reject R-67 campaign, say rates are sure to go up. The campaign paid about $25,000 for a study that insurance premiums would go up $650 million a year if the law stays on the books.

Supporters of the law say that's nonsense. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who is campaigning to save the law, says if insurance companies act in good faith there should be no rate increases. And the Approve 67 campaign spokeswoman, Sue Evans, consistently calls into question the integrity of the study done by Milliman Inc., a Seattle consulting firm with expertise in insurance and employee benefits. She told The Olympian recently during an on-line chat:

Milliman is bought and paid for by the insurance industry and is hardly an independent study.

So I was surprised then to see today that Milliman is in the news as playing a key role in Kreidler's efforts to draft a plan for universal health-care coverage. Peter Lewis writes at Crosscut today about Kreidler's so far low-profile effort to explore how to develop a plan that would provide both "catastrophic coverage and every-day medical care coverage." Milliman, Lewis writes, is working with Kreidler to figure out what the plan would cost.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner also contracted with Milliman last year to help Kreidler respond to the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care.

Can Milliman's work for the insurance industry be so easily dismissed if the firm has enough credibility to help Kreidler prepare his plan for universal health care? I've asked Evans that question and will post her answer when I get it. I also asked Todd Myers, a spokesman for the Reject campaign, what he thought.

"The trial lawyers and Commissioner Kreidler should just admit that Referendum 67 will significantly increase insurance costs. Commissioner Kreidler's own analyst of choice, Milliman Inc., says it will cost consumers $650 million more every year. Just as he tries to dismiss that fact, he turns around and hires Milliman for his next big project. When politicians want to have it both ways, it is pretty clear they aren't being honest."
Forecasting rate hikes due to legislative changes seems to this layman to be less than a science. There are a lot of assumptions that had to be made in the Milliman study, which I've looked at and attempted to digest. That's what economic forecasts are after all, estimates based on a set of assumptions. It is not outlandish to think rates could go up. The governor's Office of Financial Management said in its analysis of R-67 that premiums may increase.
Due to the conflicting research, there is no clear guidance for estimating the magnitude of the fiscal impact of potential increases in court costs, insurance premiums, or recovered claims.

My point is not to settle the question of whether rates would go up or how much they'd go up. After reading the Milliman study I can't say if $650 million seems right or not. But one of the few things the two sides in the R-67 fight can agree on is Milliman consultants are experts in this area.

And campaign rhetoric surrounding the Milliman report could come back to bite Kreidler. If he depends on the firm to do a cost analysis on universal health coverage, what's to stop opponents from claiming that the costs would actually be much higher and were artificially kept low for political purposes? Opponents could say, for example:

Milliman is bought and paid for by the insurance commissioner and is hardly an independent study.

MORE: Sue Evans responds:

"First of all David, read the study or at least scan it. It was bought and paid for by the insurance industry and has a disclaimer about its contents on the coverage page. It cannot be considered an "independent" study. If you sourced a news story like they sourced this study, you'd be out of a job, or at minimum, at Fox News.

"Reputable consumer groups in the nation who have studied insurance industry issues say Milliman is primarily used by the insurance industry."

She included this from The Olympian:

"Robert Hunter of the Consumer Federation of America, which lists the publishers of Consumer Reports among its primary supporters, says Milliman mainly works for insurers and is not a neutral source. He said most states allow much higher damages to be recovered than what Ref. 67 would allow.


And Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, based in Santa Monica, Calif., said Washington's insurance commissioner could help hold down premiums in the state by making sure that litigation costs are not passed on to consumers."

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October 24, 2007 10:15 AM

A Republican critique of Dan Satterberg

Posted by David Postman

Democrat Bill Sherman's efforts to remind voters — over and over again — that Dan Satterberg is a Republican hasn't worked on Stefan Sharkansky. Either have Republican efforts to convince voters that electing Satterberg as county prosecutor is the most important race of the year.

Sharkansky has become increasingly critical of Satterberg in a series of posts he titles

THE UNINSPIRING KING COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S RACE

He is unhappy that Satterberg won't prosecute a P-I writer for voter registration fraud.

He said that Satterberg's decision to return $770 in contributions to Lori Sotelo was a "bizarre attempt to appear 'non-partisan.'"

By returning the contribution instead of simply explaining the correctness of the decision not to prosecute Sotelo, Satterberg only raises doubts about his own impartiality and legitimizes the false partisan insinuation that Sotelo really should have been prosecuted.

(I don't think that's what Satterberg was trying to do. He explained his decision as an ethical choice, saying he did not want even the appearance that someone the office declined to prosecute would later repay the favor with a campaign contribution.)

Of course, Satterberg has tried in other ways to appear non-partisan. Sharkansky doesn't like that, either.

Satterberg is also endorsed by Mrs. Gregoire's consigliere Jenny Durkan, the lead Democrat lawyer in the election contest lawsuit. Every politician has multiple, sometimes competing, allegiances, and Democrat/Republican partisanship isn't necessarily the most important. Like Norm Maleng, Dan Satterberg's first loyalty is to the County Executive, whom he sees as his primary client. A bold and principled Prosecutor could establish him/herself as an independent force for accountable government. But that's not what we've had, or will have, if Satterberg is elected.

I wouldn't be shocked to see Satterberg reprint the Sharkansky posts as a direct mail piece to Democratic households. I could imagine a headline that says, "How come the Republicans' favorite blogger doesn't like Dan Satterberg?" The answer of course would be, "Because he thinks Dan isn't partisan enough."

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October 23, 2007 11:08 AM

What should Rossi say?

Posted by David Postman

Suspend, if you can, your personal feelings about Dino Rossi. Democrats and Republicans, if you can set aside the party talking points for a morning, let's play political consultant.

What would you tell Rossi to say Thursday when he announces his second campaign for governor? For example, I've been wondering how much time he'll spend in his announcement talking about 2004 and his drawn out battle against Gov. Christine Gregoire. Does it help to make this about a rematch and Rossi's attempt to claim — or reclaim as he'd say — what Republicans think is rightfully his?

(Try to avoid the nasty comments or the attacks dressed up as advice.)

Announcement speeches are not meant for specifics. But Thursday is a key day for Rossi in that for the first time since he lost his legal challenge in 2005 he will be talking as a candidate.

Since then he's sidestepped any question he didn't want to answer by saying he wasn't a candidate. Now he is, and Thursday is a chance to give a broad outline of what the campaign will be about. Is it about state finances and what he fears is a coming budget crisis? Is it about the favorite Republican theme that Democrats have held the office just too long and it's time for a change?

One thing I think would be a mistake. During his tour of the state, Rossi said at one stop that Gregoire had begun to copy his good ideas. What does that leave Rossi then for a campaign? "She's doing what I'd do, but I thought of it first"? That's hardly, "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

I think John Carlson, who ran for governor for the GOP in 2000, fell into a similar trap. He continually talked about what a nice guy Gov. Gary Locke was, and even that they agreed on many issues. But Carlson said he'd show true leadership in Olympia. The leadership gap didn't do much as voters chose the nice governor for a second term.

One side note: In today's stories Jill Strait is quoted as Rossi's spokeswoman. Until recently she was the press secretary to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. I heard she left D.C., and wondered where she'd show up next.


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October 23, 2007 7:11 AM

Hillary Clinton in Seattle

Posted by David Postman

Here's my story from this morning's paper, though is a bit hard to find our website.

UPDATE: Apparently I wasn't paying attention and the story was on the homepage. Apologies to all. I hadn't had coffee yet.

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October 22, 2007 5:40 PM

Clinton, Rossi and UFOs

Posted by David Postman

I am at Benaroya Hall for the state Democrats big function with Hillary Clinton. There is no working wifi in the building. I am at an undisclosed location. There is a big crowd here, but few protests outside despite the best efforts of the state Republican Party. Ron Paul, certainly officially a Republican, has a big presence in the blocks surrounding the concert hall, though.

So, I hear Dino Rossi is going to run for governor. Who's surprised? Well, I am. A little at least. I have to admit to thinking the chances were 50-50. Be sure his name will come up here tonight.

As for UFOs? This is from Newhosue News Service:

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has claimed he saw a UFO, according to Shirley MacLaine in her new book, "Sage-Ing While Age-Ing."

Kucinich "had a close sighting over my home in Graham, Washington, when I lived there," wrote the actress, a close Kucinich friend. "Dennis found his encounter extremely moving. The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him.

"It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn't comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind."

MORE: Clinton has a two-day schedule of fundraisers while in the area. She had one earlier today, will have an after-party fundraiser late tonight at the home of Stan and Alta Barer and tomorrow has an event with high-tech execs and a visit to Microsoft.

On my Treo - Democratic State Party Chairman Dwight Pelz warmed up the crowd with this bit of red meat.

''These Republicans in Washington, D.C., are truly evil and need to be replaced.''

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October 22, 2007 11:14 AM

GOP chair wants vigorous protests against Clinton

Posted by David Postman

State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser says today "is a defining day for Republicans in our state." He says party members need to protest tonight's visit by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to "to show how our principles and ideals differ from those of the Democrats."

In calling for the protests, Esser turns nostalgic for 1994 when a conservative crowd heckled Clinton, then First Lady and starting a campaign for health-care reform, appeared in downtown Seattle.

Instead of the thoroughly left-wing crowd that was expected, a vigorous group of conservative counter-protesters showed up to oppose Hillary Care, energizing a national movement that pulled the plug on Hillary's dreams of socialized medicine and ultimately acting as a catalyst for the '94 Republican revolution.

It is a huge stretch to claim that the protest against Clinton here was either what killed health-care reform or lit the fuse on the '94 GOP takeover. If anything the protests were an early sign of what was already happening across the country.

If the Westlake protests are now part of Republican lore, it's worth refreshing our memories about that day. The protesters were recruited and encouraged by talk show hosts on KVI. There was a lot of shouting and crosstalk between Clinton supporters and opponents. And it got ugly. As Joel Connelly has reported:

Signs called the first lady a "witch." As Clinton's limousine exited the Westin garage, passenger Sen. Patty Murray recoiled at hearing the bellowed shout: "Kill the bitch!"

Esser sent out his call for protests in an e-mail to supporters this morning that said:

URGENT: Hillary Clinton In Seattle Today - Let's Send Her A Message

But he's also looking for money. And he's taking a page from the liberal netroots.

When President Bush visited Seattle a month ago, Democrats raised over $100,000 in online contributions. Their most liberal elements called it a "show of strength" and we as Republicans need to take the left wing very, very seriously. The Democrats are thoroughly committed to an agenda of larger government and higher taxes, and will not give up their iron grip on state government voluntarily.

...

Today, grassroots Republicans can send a message right back to Hillary Clinton and Christine Gregoire by contributing here (link) to help us spread the word about Hillary's dismal record and the danger she poses to our state.

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October 22, 2007 10:06 AM

Satterberg to return donation from GOP activist

Posted by David Postman

King County interim prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican running for election, says he will return $770 in political contributions from party activist Lori Sotelo. In 2005, Sotelo challenged registrations of more than 1,900 voters. She had to retract many of those after voters showed they were properly registered, a move that some Democrats said should have led to perjury charges against Sotelo.

The late Norm Maleng decided against charging Sotelo, a decision Satterberg agrees with. He said voter registration challenges should not be a "winner-takes-all, loser-goes-to-jail event."

But Satterberg just told me that he didn't know until we talked this morning that Sotelo had donated to his campaign. He says he'll return the money.

"Lori contributes to a lot of campaigns. I did not ask her for anything. ... She didn't do anything wrong by sending me a check. But I want to keep this above reproach."

Sotelo gave Satterberg $700 on Oct. 12 and $70 on July 19, according to records filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. Satterberg said he would not accept campaign donations from anyone that the prosecutor's office reviewed for possible charges.

"I do not want even a hint that someone we declined to charge would later send a contribution as some sort of quid pro quo later on."

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October 19, 2007 5:04 PM

Gregoire asks GOP to help her raise campaign cash

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Christine Gregoire is flying east this weekend on a campaign-funded trip that culminates in a D.C. fundraiser Monday night. She will first fly to Philadelphia for the fall policy conference of the Democratic Governor's Association. (If you look at the conference schedule there doesn't look to be a lot of policy talk scheduled. Go Bears!)

Gregoire Communications Director Holly Armstrong said the trip will be paid for with campaign funds, not taxpayer money. She referred other questions to campaign officials who I have not yet been able to connect with.

Gregoire's finance team is casting a wide net for D.C. donors. They've even invited a Republican locked in a debate with the governor over children's health care. Every member of Washington's Congressional delegation, including Republicans, were invited to not only attend, but to be "special guests" at the fundraiser and get their names on the invitations.

Todd Young, chief of staff to Congressman Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, forwarded me this e-mail that came earlier this month.


From: Thomas Giordano
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 7:29 PM
To: 'Tom Giordano'
Subject: Governor Gregoire of Washington in DC

To The Washington State Congressional and Senate Delegation:

My name is Tom Giordano, I work with Stephanie Berger on Governor Gregoire's national finance team. We are writing to inform you that Governor Gregoire will be in Washington, DC on the evening of October 22nd for a fundraising event.

We would love to have each of the members of the WA delegation to sign on as honorary "special guests" for the event's invitation and would love any and all of your bosses and staff to attend the event.

Please let me know if we can list the Representative / Senator on the invitation for our event.

Thank you all — Have a great evening.

Best,

Tom

The e-mail came the same day Gregoire wrote a letter to Hastings lobbying him to support an override of President Bush's veto of a children's health-care bill. Gregoire said in the letter that she realized that Hastings was under "partisan pressures" to support the president." A fundraising letter she sent to supporters the month before said it was "shameful" that Republicans oppose health care for children. Hastings responded to Gregoire's lobbying with a letter back that said "partisan attacks and using SCHIP for fundraising appeals won't help the poorest children in our state and nation."

Young told me the timing of the two messages was the "ironies of ironies."

"The exact same day they're putting out a two-page letter to the news media on S-CHIP they're inviting us to help raise money for her re-election. The one thing they have in common is its all politics. This issue to her has been about politics and re-election."

D.C. lobbyists were also cold-called, via e-mail, to participate in the fundraiser. They got this e-mail:

From: Thomas Giordano Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 10:30 AM To: Subject: Governor Gregoire Event in DC

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Tom Giordano and I work on Governor Christine Gregoire's national finance team. I wanted to contact you to see if you were interested in being involved in the Governor's re-election campaign and participating in a fundraiser we are planning for the Governor in Washington, DC on October 22nd.

As you know, Governor Gregoire is the top targeted incumbent Governor this cycle. You may be aware of Governor Gregoire's strong leadership in the settlement of the tobacco litigation as Attorney General of Washington and in 2004, the Governor won by only 129 votes and we are preparing for the GOP to be aggressive and unforgiving. Right now, we are looking at a likely 2004 rematch against an opponent who feels incredibly slighted by the Superior Court's ruling putting Governor Gregoire in office -- so we know the GOP will not hold any punches to win the seat. To prepare for this we are working to raise a significant financial base to keep one of our best and brightest in office.

We would love to have you and your firm involved in this event. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Tom


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October 19, 2007 3:29 PM

A photo op for Democrats

Posted by David Postman

The Republican county prosecutor will appear with the party's recent, high-profile, arrestee.

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October 19, 2007 11:27 AM

Can good in office outweigh bad in private life?

Posted by David Postman

Yesterday in my UW political reporting class (teaching, not taking) we were talking about when bloggers become public figures. Stefan Sharkansky and Eli Sanders were our guests. A student was grilling Sharkansky, who said he didn't think his non-blog life should be considered open to public purview. Sanders disagreed, saying that as someone who makes a habit of calling out politicians about all sorts of things, including their personal lives, that Sharkansky should expect at times the same in return.

I said that if I was spotted downtown stumbling drunk, I wouldn't be surprised to find mention of that on the Slog. And I didn't say, but thought when I was reading about Venus Velazquez, that if I were ever arrested for DUI, or anything else, that would make the local blogs and maybe even a newspaper or two.

I write about this now because I was reading Joel Connelly's column in the P-I today. He's uncomfortable with the attention given the arrests of three local politicians. I tend to agree with Joel that

our campaigns have become sidetracked into a) what candidates did when they were young, b) business and legal clients, c) the stretching of guilt by association and d) squabbles over contribution reports.

The press can get bogged down in guilt by association and petty complaints about contribution reports. In fact, I've been thinking I spend too much time on some of those things myself. But I'm not sure I agree about "business and legal clients." That can be pretty important. I want to know what a candidate did and how he or she operated before entering the public arena. To mash up some clichés, throwing your hat in the ring doesn't give you a blank slate. That's not how the world works. We are a whole of our parts, the good and the bad, and in writing about politicians we should look for that full picture. And that can include youthful indiscretions.

Joel's column was prompted by City Council candidate Velazquez's arrest for driving drunk. He had declined an invitation to go along with the candidate for an after-debate round of drinks that eventually led to her arrest. Velazquez's troubles follow County Councilwoman Jane Hague's DUI bust and City Councilman Richard McIver's arrest on domestic violence charges.

It's not a pretty picture for squeaky-clean Seattle. But I think Joel wants to pretty up politics too much. He writes about the good old days, when a reporter watched the late Sen. Warren Magnuson gulp down glasses of vodka. The unnamed scribe apparently didn't share that with readers. Joel says the good Magnuson did in office out-weighed the need to report on "how the senator spent his non-business hours."

The same argument was made about former Sen. Brock Adams, who in his non-business hours was harassing and molesting women and in one case allegedly even drugged and raped a woman. Prominent people apparently knew of his "problem" but even after the allegations were made public, some party stalwarts said the good senator should stay in office. As one put it

"In 40 years, Brock Adams has not taken a single bum vote. ... Why in the world would we lose this precious resource?"

This isn't about wanting only bland candidates, or those clean of human frailty and failings. As John McCain told a small group of reporters on the Straight Talk Express in 2000, "I believe in redemption. I have to — I'm a deeply flawed person." I think the mainstream press coverage of McIver, Hague and Velazquez has been fair and mostly restrained. (Withstanding, of course, the P-I's banner play of Velazquez today.) Some blogs may have gone too far with the news. But I don't want us to show restraint only because we fear what partisan blogs might do with the news we uncover.

Joel wrote:

We should never — ever — make light of drunken driving or spousal abuse. But I'm still disposed to ask: Have we become so preoccupied with purifying the pond that we're killing all the water lilies?

In my book, a single arrest doesn't automatically disqualify someone from public office. (And there have yet to be trials on any of these charges.) But if a politician is found to have driven drunk or hit his wife, who are we to tell voters they shouldn't use that as the sole deciding factor in who to vote for? Who wants to tell a victim of domestic violence that? Or the family of someone killed by a drunk driver?

Is the suggestion that we don't report these events and let them become colorful pieces of history like Maggie's heavy drinking? Do we report it at the second DUI, or only when there is a fatality involved? Do we wait until we, the media, decide that a politician's public good no longer outweighs what happens in the "non-business hours"?

If you're in office, or running for office, and you're arrested, you should assume that will make news. It should be news. Not a disqualifier necessarily, but part of the picture that we in the media should bring to the public. It's up to them, not us, to read the scales and decide how much weight it deserves.

MORE: Seattlest Seth has a personal take on the Velazquez arrest.

Possibly the only good thing to come out of this is that, because she refused to take a breathalyzer test, Velazquez' license is suspended for a year.

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October 18, 2007 8:36 AM

Locals with big bucks give to presidential candidates

Posted by David Postman

A colleague — well, one of my many bosses — e-mailed this morning after perusing OpenSecrets.org and the latest presidential fundraising numbers. He found that Suzie Burke, the so-called Mayor of Fremont, had donated $3,000 to the former real mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani and that Paul Allen, mayor of South Lake Union, was backing Hillary Clinton with $4,600 in donations.

That sent me to the site to see who else in Washington State is giving to whom in the presidential race. I found:


  • Real Networks founder and CEO Rob Glaser is backing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. He donated $2,300, but that's likely to be only a small piece of his political giving. In 2004 he was the top political giver from Washington state, donating $1 million to an independent group working to defeat President Bush. In 2000 he backed his friend, and the man Democrats love to hate, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

  • One of the top in-state donors to Clinton is a name that I haven't seen pop up in politics, Thomas Campion, founder and chairman of the Zumiez clothing stores, who gave $4,100.

  • Seattle developer Bruce Blume, another little-known name in political giving, donated $4,600 to Obama. I don't see that he gave anything in 2004.

  • In June developer Martin Selig gave $2,300 each to Giuliani and Romney.

  • Carl Behnke, chairman of Sur La Table, and his wife, Renee, have donated $10,300 to Republican Mitt Romney. (There must be an error or a refund due because individuals are limited to giving $4,600 each.) All that money came in March. More recently, though, the Behnkes gave to Giuliani, with $1,000 of donations in August.

  • Bill Gates, Sr., is a $2,300 donor to Obama. His son — a 2004 George Bush backer — doesn't show up yet as donating to any presidential campaigns.

  • Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, gave Republican John McCain $2,000 in August.

  • Joseph Schocken, president of Broadmark Capital and one of the top Democratic donors in the country in 2004, has donated $2,300 each to Clinton and to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

  • Wireless executive John Stanton is a $2,300 donor to Romney.

  • Moneytree executives Dennis and David Bassford have each given Romney $2,100.

  • Trial lawyer Matthew Bergman and his wife, Rebecca, have given a total of $27,000 to Democratic candidates so far. They've given to Obama, Richardson, Sen. Joseph Biden, and to the short-lived candidacy of Tom Vilsack.

  • Al Gore's close friend and confidante Pam Eakes may know something you don't about any possible Gore run for president. She gave Clinton $2,200 in June.

  • Cowlitz Tribal Chairman John Barnett and his son, David, are maximum backers of Sen. Christopher Dodd, each having given $4,600 in April


MORE: Donors are supposed to list their occupations. Ron Paul's supporters have some colorful ways to describe their jobs, as I see from this which I got at the end of a long chain of links, but started at the Wall Street Journal's blog.

Donald Cowles lists himself as self-employed and his occupation as simply "Capitalist." On the opposite end, David Cameron of San Jose, Calif., lists his employer as "Looking for Work" and his job as "Unemployed." Still, Cameron has given a total of $1,900 to the campaign.

Griswold Draz of Wellfleet, Mass., a $500 donor, is a self-described "curmudgeon," and Andrew Maul of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a "Citizen Fighting Tyranny." Others are more coy. James Harper of Vancouver, Wash., a $600 donor, offered "guess? ;)" as his occupation.

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October 17, 2007 7:07 PM

How much did Bush raise for Reichert?

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Dave Reichert's campaign got less than $200,000 from an August fundraiser headlined by President George Bush. The Bellevue event raised about $185,000 for the Auburn Republican's re-election campaign, according to Reichert's chief of staff, Mike Shields. The campaign had thought it had gotten more from the event, but $47,000 had to be refunded to donors who had given over the legal limit.

Proceeds from the Bush fundraiser were shared with the state Republican Party, which got about $130,000. Overall the president raised far less than the $800,000 he brought in for Reichert and the party in 2006, and less than the $500,000 Shields had hoped for this year.

You can see that Daniel Kirkdorffer continues to have questions about Reichert's fundraising and how much the campaign really got from the Bush event.

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October 17, 2007 3:53 PM

Reichert numbers a mistake; Burner did better in 3Q

Posted by David Postman

Mike Shields, chief of staff to Congressman Dave Reichert, says he made a mistake in the numbers he gave me last week for Reichert's latest fundraising totals. Shields said he improperly added back into those 3rd quarter totals, money that had to be refunded to donors who had given more than the legal limit.

With those numbers out, Democratic challenger Darcy Burner raised more money than Reichert in recent months and -- as already was the case -- has more money in the bank than the two-term incumbent. Shields said the correct numbers are included in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this week. That shows Reichert raised $294,888 in the 3rd quarter, for a total of $766,703 so far this year, leaving $339,460 in the bank.

Burner raised $304,901 in the third quarter. She has raised $518,630 so far this year and has $370,228 in the bank.

Shields said in a prepared statement:

"I apologize for the mistake and for any incorrect stories that were written or broadcast because of it. I encourage media outlets to correct the record.

"I certainly did not intend to mislead anyone, especially in the full
knowledge that the numbers are made public by the FEC."

He said the mistake came because the Reichert campaign used a credit card application while raising money for the joint account that took money from a fundraiser headlined by President Bush. That money was supposed to be shared with the state party. Shields said $47,100 was improperly transferred to the Reichert campaign account and had to be refunded to donors.

Shields said he reported the erroneous totals after talking with the campaign's treasurer and fundraiser.

"I misunderstood what they told me, which is entirely my fault, and gave incorrect information to the press. As someone who has worked with the media my entire career, I feel terrible that I made a mistake that led to erroneous stories being written and broadcast and I will ensure that figures are reported accurately in the future."

More to come ...

Shields said that he wishes the campaign had raised more money in the past quarter than it did. He says he doesn't worry that Burner did better than the incumbent, though he said he knows the media will focus on that comparison.

"The fact of the matter is when this is over both sides will have raised a lot of money. You can't concern yourself with those sorts of things. You just have to say, 'We have to raise the money we need to get our message on television next fall."

One of the reasons Reichert shows a smaller amount of cash on hand than many would expect from an incumbent is that the campaign is increasing its fundraising expenses. Shields said more money is being spent on fundraising consultants and direct mail costs, in part, to make up for the more difficult time Reichert has raising money in D.C. now that he is in the minority.

Questions came up about Reichert's report this week thanks to thorough work by Daniel Kirkdorffer. (Somehow, though, horsesass seems to be getting some of the credit for his labors.)

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October 17, 2007 10:39 AM

Chair of 34th District Dems drops House bid

Posted by David Postman

Did you miss the news earlier this week that Rep. Joe McDermott, D-Seattle, has been appointed the state Senate? It was right here, beneath news briefs about the surrender of a shooting suspect, a plea by a robbery suspect, malpractice claims, a notice of delay in any new news about Richard McIver, a re-election announcement for next year from a Camano Island legislator and the awarding of a grant to the Bellevue Arts Museum.

McDermott's appointment was expected from the day that former Sen. Erik Poulsen announced he was resigning to take a job with the public utility district association. West Seattle Blog has more on McDermott's swearing-in.

The blog also has news on the contest to fill McDermott's House seat. Ivan Weiss, chairman of the 34th District Democrats, has ended his campaign to get appointed to the seat. He said in a statement that he already accomplished what he wanted to with his run and will now back Sharon Nelson.

At the time, Sharon was not well known in the District. Make no mistake, that was a problem, and it is why I ran. It is not that much of a problem today. I ran partly to send her and her team a message, and they have gotten the message. Sharon has demonstrated to my satisfaction that she will be an integral part of the organization in addition to being a hard-working, conscientious, responsive state representative. I like to think that I set that bar pretty high.

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October 16, 2007 11:14 AM

Obama clear leader in state money race

Posted by David Postman

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has raised far more Washington state money than any other presidential candidate. The latest reports — broken out by state by the invaluable OpenSecrets.org — show Obama has raised more than $1 million here.

Mitt Romney is the top Republican fundraiser, and No. 2 overall, with $549,018. Democrat John Edwards is third with $548,472.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who leads the money race nationwide has raised $470,392 from Washington residents. She will be in Seattle next week tomorrowto headline a state Democratic Party dinner.

See all the Washington state numbers here.

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October 16, 2007 7:32 AM

A second look at Reichert's latest fundraising

Posted by David Postman

Daniel Kirkdorffer carefully read the latest FEC reports and says Congressman Dave Reichert's latest filing shows he didn't raise as much money as the campaign initially claimed. Kirkdorffer, among the area's biggest blogging supporters of Democrat Darcy Burner, says that the totals Reichert's campaign gave me last week included money that was later refunded to donors.

And that means that in the third quarter of this year Burner looks to have raised more money than the incumbent. Kirkdorffer wrote:

It turns out, on closer inspection, that Reichert only raised $295,538 all told, not the $342,638 in total receipts. The difference is the $47,100 in refunds. If you look at the refunds and compare them to the itemized contributions, it is clear that the refunds simply amount to excess contributions beyond contribution limits. Reichert never really took in the money in the first place, and his Q3 total therefore actually lags Burner's total of $306,883, despite the fact Bush came to raise money for him.

MORE: Curt Woodward of the AP talked to Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields about the refunds:

Those refunds had to be issued because of mistakes in dividing the Bush money between Reichert's re-election campaign and the state Republican Party, which shared the more than $500,000 raised by the president.

The refunded contributions will be repaid, so Reichert is counting those contributions toward his third quarter total, Shields said.

Overall, Reichert has already cashed about $200,000 from the Bush visit to Bellevue, with more expected to roll in as officials continue splitting up the money, Shields said.

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October 15, 2007 2:49 PM

State SEIU endorses Edwards for president

Posted by David Postman

Washington state was one of 10 state chapters of the politically active Service Employees International Union to endorse John Edwards for president today. The New York Times says members in the 10 chapters make up more than half the SEIU's national membership. That includes the biggest, California, and one of the most important politically, Iowa.

The Times reports:

Far more than any other candidate, Mr. Edwards has staked his campaign on labor endorsements. He has marched on scores of union picket lines and moved quickly to endorse one of labor's main goals: universal health coverage. He also has the endorsements of the carpenters, the mine workers, the transport workers and the steelworkers.

Whether the union endorsements put Mr. Edwards over the top in Iowa or prove to be a dud, as they were for Richard Gephardt in Iowa in 2004, remains to be seen.


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October 15, 2007 1:17 PM

Rent due gets lobbyists booted from Capitol

Posted by David Postman

Amount earned by Olympia lobbyists since January 2005: $117.3 million
Amount spent donating to lawmakers and wining and dining them: $17.7 million.
Amount lobbyists owe the state in back rent for shared Capitol office $24,494.
Number of hours (approximate) it would take for the lobbying corps to earn that much: 5

The Olympian has been covering this story. The paper reported Saturday that the state sent a letter to the lobbyists demanding at least a meeting by Wednesday to discuss the back rent. The debt started piling up because the state forgot to bill the lobbyists. Since that was discovered, officials have had no success in trying to collect payment.

"Of course, it is in the best interest of both parties to resolve this debt expeditiously and without involving a collection agency or taking legal action," concludes the letter from Patrick Buker, assistant director for the landlord, the Department of General Administration.

The Olympian reports lobbyist Steve Gano said "members of the lobbying corps have been looking for pledges of $500 and $1,000 to help pay the bill." He is unhappy that the state failed to send a bill for so long.

For the record: The press corps works in offices owned by the state as well. There was a time about 10 years ago when it was discovered that the state had failed to bill our papers and back rent was due. As far as I know, those payments were made and our rent has been paid on time since.

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October 15, 2007 11:14 AM

Governor gets PR help

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Christine Gregoire is paying a PR firm nearly $20,000 to "evaluate the past communications structure in the Governor's Office ... to find out what is working well and what could be strengthened." It's the second time in two years that the governor has issued a contract to review her office's PR strategy.

Former gubernatorial communications director Anne Fennessy -- she worked for Gov. Mike Lowry -- and her Seattle firm, Cocker Fennessy, will also help recruit a new communications director and write a "communications plan" for the governor to follow from November through next July.

According to a sole-source contract with the governor's office, Cocker Fennessy is set to start its work today and will be paid $19,500 through Dec. 14.

Communications Directory Holly Armstrong recently announced her resignation and will leave the job early next month. Prior to her hiring in December 2005, Armstrong was paid $12,000 to do a similar review of the governor's PR operation. Armstrong's contract, though, did not include work in helping to recruit personnel as Fennessy will do.

Cocker Fennessy already does work for the Washington State Transportation and Ecology departments, the state ferry system, and the state's Puget Sound Partnership. Fennessy and her firm also support Gregoire politically. She, Rick Cocker, and their firm have given a total of $2,922 in cash and in-kind contributions to the governor's re-election campaign.

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October 12, 2007 2:48 PM

Reichert bests Burner, a bit, in latest money totals

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, outpaced Democratic challenger Darcy Burner in third-quarter fundraising. Thanks in part to help from a visit by President Bush, Reichert raised $340,800 in the past three months, according to his chief of staff, Mike Shields. That brings up his 2007 total to $830,440. Reichert has $339,400 left in the bank.

Shields said the Reichert camp is happy with the fundraising totals. He did say it has been more difficult to raise money in D.C. this cycle now that Reichert is in the minority.

I posted yesterday on Burner's numbers. Also helped by Bush's visit, Burner raised $304,901 in the third quarter. She has raised $518,630 so far this year and has $370,228 in the bank.

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October 12, 2007 7:52 AM

A debate between Satterberg and Sherman

Posted by David Postman

I spent about an hour yesterday talking with King County prosecutor candidates Dan Satterberg and Bill Sherman. We recorded the debate/discussion and it's posted on The Times Web site this morning. I tried to get the candidates to move beyond the rhetoric that has dominated the race. The Cliff Notes version of that would be:

Satterberg: Norm

Sherman: Democrat

I think we succeeded in part at least. The candidates talked about the death penalty and gun control. And I was surprised to hear some agreement between them on those issues. For example, neither are interested in lobbying the Legislature to require background checks for people who buy weapons at gun shows.

Take a listen.

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October 11, 2007 2:28 PM

International anti-gay group coming to Lynnwood

Posted by David Postman

The Stranger says an overseas group with connections to local pastor Ken Hutcherson is coming to the Lynnwood Convention Center later this month. Slog commenters discovered

the Watchmen on the Walls will hold an international meeting to plot their war against homosexuals and "homosexualists" (straight people who are sympathetic to gay people) at the Lynnwood Convention Center. Calls made yesterday to the Convention Center revealed administrators' ignorance of what they were getting themselves into.

As featured Watchmen speaker Pastor Alexey Ledyaev put it, the Watchmen's mission is "to bring the laws of our nations in[to] full compliance with the law of God." This Taliban-esque mission is made more alarming by the anti-gay violence that tends to swarm around Watchmen events.

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October 11, 2007 2:06 PM

Burner ready to post big fundraising numbers

Posted by David Postman

Darcy Burner's congressional campaign will report contributions of $304,901 for the third-quarter of the year. That brings the Democratic challenger's total for the year to $518,630, according to numbers released by campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik.

Burner raised a little less than $200,000 last quarter. Kaushik says the new total exceeded expectations and the campaign hopes it's enough to put Burner among the top funded challengers nationally.

That includes money raised in a national, on-line campaign run in September when President Bush was here raising money for incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

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October 11, 2007 7:41 AM

The Aimee Curl post

Posted by David Postman

Seattle Weekly reporter Aimee Curl had drinks with Richard McIver shortly before the city councilman was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

He spoke glowingly of his wife of 33 years, Marlaina Kiner-McIver, a graduate of Howard University Law School who moved them to the nation's capitol so she could take a post with the Carter administration as a lawyer for the Housing and Urban Development Department.

McIver offered to drive me home and seemed in good spirits when he dropped me off on Capitol Hill around 7:45 p.m.

Curl also has two interesting city council stories this week. She talked to Venus Velazquez and Bruce Harrell about racial politics and what Velazquez meant when she told a minority forum that people should vote for people who look like them.

And then there's this strange bit about Harrell and the child he doesn't acknowledge in his campaign.

Harrell also has a fourth child who doesn't appear in the campaign photos and isn't mentioned in his literature. Evan Harrell, 15, was born before Bruce and Joanne were married. He lives in Tacoma with his mom, Deborah Johnson, who says the campaign season has been tough on her. That's why a friend of hers ultimately contacted the Velazquez camp to call attention to the situation.

"It adds insult to injury for him to act like Evan doesn't exist," says Johnson, speaking by phone.

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October 10, 2007 3:29 PM

Only 13 months to go

Posted by David Postman

I swear, the governor's race is going to make me lose what's left of my already-addled, almost-half-a-century-old brain. Please, make them stop. Or start, as the case may be. Just do something. I know I've already vented about this.

But today, I saw this headline in the P-I:

Democrats aim to link Rossi to child-health veto

That, of course, refers to the Republican who is not a candidate for governor and the health-care bill Gov. Christine Gregoire -- who is not yet running for re-election -- says is a non-partisan issue.

And at the Spokesman, Rich Roesler writes on his blog that a Republican dinner tonight has been closed to the press. Roesler talked to GOP Chairman Luke Esser and reports:

He said he didn't want to risk giving any fodder to the "frivolous" complaint by state Democrats that Rossi is already a de facto candidate whose appearances around the state amount to a stealth campaign.

Secrecy is clearly the best way to deal with questions about a stealth effort. Well played gentlemen.

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October 10, 2007 12:27 PM

Has Clinton moved beyond fame?

Posted by David Postman

Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, says a new poll showing the New York senator's commanding lead in the Democratic presidential primary shows that the candidate is moving from famous to well-known. Penn is in Seattle today -- a week before the candidate is here for a party speech -- on a book tour and meeting with local Clinton supporters. He said a new Gallup Poll
is just the latest evidence that of the "tremendous consolidation of the numbers around Senator Clinton where she has moved up in many of the polls." Penn said that Clinton's rise is a surprise to people who from the beginning of the campaign

"thought she was known and couldn't go up. But it turned out she was more famous than known, and she shattered the preconceptions about her."

...

"People had a very outdated image of the senator outside of places like New York. ... People didn't realize how well she knew the national issues."

Penn also said there was what he termed a "myth" that Clinton was "personally distant."

The LA Times had a good story Monday about how Clinton built her lead.

One of the most demonized politicians in America has begun to win a second look from skeptics.

That underscores one of Clinton's most important assets in the turbulent few months ahead of the balloting set for early January. She has built a political base -- reflected in polls -- of voters who dominate the Democratic nominating process: seniors, women and blue-collar voters.


Penn said:

"I think the more people see her they more they see how ready she is to be president."

Clinton is counting on support from two groups that Penn said helped re-elect George W. Bush: Hispanics and women. He said support from Latinos are showing up in polls for Clinton "in incredibly strong numbers, almost universal, 95 percent-kind of support." And, he said, if Clinton is the Democratic nominee there will be an outpouring of female, first-time voters.

As for how Clinton is doing locally, Penn said the most recent polling he had was from May. But The Stranger's Eli Sanders asked him about a more recent Survey USA poll that showed Barack Obama the most popular Democrat among state voters.

Penn said that he thinks the "momentum is shifting" away from Obama. You can read Sanders' take on the local scene here.

Penn did say there is strong support for Clinton among "more downscale voters" and blue collar Democrats. I would say that Seattle is light on those kind of Democrats and that could help explain Obama's strong support here.

Penn said that voters have moved from Obama to Clinton as they became convinced that Clinton had not just the right position on the issues, but the experience to deliver results. With months to go before the first vote is case, Penn is optimistic, though he said he doesn't want that to be misread as complacent.

"People always say, 'Is she electable?' What I do is point out that not only is she electable, but she's ahead."

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October 10, 2007 10:50 AM

Demos on attack against would-be candidate Rossi

Posted by David Postman

State Democrats aren't waiting for Republican Dino Rossi to announce for governor. The party is hitting him hard, now in a new Web site that calls him a liar and calls the non-profit group he founded "sleazy."

The party has filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission alleging that a non-profit Rossi headed, Forward Washington Foundation, was an illegal front for a campaign. That's the thrust of the new site, SleazyRossiFrontGroup.com.

There's nothing subtle about the attacks that use the sort of language you'll never hear Gov. Christine Gregoire say herself about Rossi. The site has the blurry photos and scary typefaces of classic negative campaign ads. But that's what political parties are for. Gregoire can maintain she is staying above partisan politics by waiting to make a formal re-election announcement.

Democrats are trying to avoid a mistake they made in 2004. After Gregoire's record-thin margin of victory over Rossi, some party officials said they hadn't hit Rossi hard enough. Sen. Patty Murray, who skated to an easy re-election that year, had taken a much more aggressive stance against her Republican opponent, Rep. George Nethercutt. Even a key Rossi advisor said after the election the Republican's campaign was surprised he didn't get hit harder.

Democrats are trying to make up for that now.

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October 10, 2007 10:23 AM

Me and Strangie

Posted by David Postman

Jeff Weedman is a big fan of The Stranger, even when he's drawing comics of the paper's publisher, Tim Keck, defending the alt-weekly's tobacco ads. Weedman is running a one-man campaign to get The Stranger and other local publications to stop running ads from cigarette companies. We talked yesterday afternoon.

"The irreverence of The Stranger really appeals to me a lot. But that whole non-conformist attitude is really what the cigarette companies are trying to bank on. 'We're alternative like you. We're anything goes.' I think you can have some fun with irreverence but I really think tobacco is the exception. I think the addictive nature of it really goes above and beyond alcohol or illicit sex or even drugs.

"To me, for a progressive paper to be advertising tobacco is just very hypocritical and there's something ugly about it."

Weedman created a weekly web comic, "The Adventures of Strangie," to try to shame the paper into dropping tobacco ads. But his campaign is also aimed at the Seattle Weekly, the Seattle Gay News and Seattle Magazine. While the tobacco companies are using the weeklies to go for that alternative feel, he says, the glossy Seattle Magazine ads are tuned to that upscale audience.

"They have a new, rather insidious campaign, trying to talk about tobacco as if it were something for a connoisseur, trying to make it like it's a refined pleasure."

Weedman is a former smoker --- ah, the power of the convert -- who learned to really hate smoking while spending years as a waiter in the pre-smoking ban years. He was a volunteer for Initiative 901, which banned smoking in bars and restaurants.

He says that the mainstream anti-smoking groups don't want to take on the local media so he took up the charge himself. About a month ago he created Strangie, printed up some of the comics and tried passing them out on Capital Hill.

"It didn't go very well. But the idea of Strangie was a lot of fun and I wanted to keep playing with that."

Weedman also confronted the Stranger's Dan Savage at a speaking event. But now he seems settled on doing his work through Strangie. How's that going so far?

"My response so far has been a little tepid. I've gotten about 10 e-mails, half and half. People have kind of a blasé attitude about tobacco advertising and they say, 'I see ads all the time and I don't smoke.'"

But he says the ads are more insidious than people realize and he will keep pushing the weeklies and Seattle Magazine to stop taking money from the tobacco companies.

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October 10, 2007 8:46 AM

Dal LaMagna drops anti-war campaign for president

Posted by David Postman

The Concord Monitor in Dal LaMagna's latest adopted home of New Hampshire has the story.

"I tell my friends I'm cured," he said by phone last week. LaMagna had made New Hampshire the focus of his campaign, renting space in downtown Concord.

But as a little-known candidate, LaMagna found the campaign trail tough going. He wasn't allowed to hold his sign or distribute literature at several fairs, he said; when he asked to speak to church groups about Iraq, they said they couldn't host political candidates. "I just didn't think I could meet enough people to have New Hampshire be my launching pad," he said. Even a stunt at a Bill and Hillary Clinton rally in Concord -- he hired a horse to advertise his "dark horse" candidacy - didn't win much attention.

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October 9, 2007 3:17 PM

School board incumbents trail in money race

Posted by David Postman

If you're following the Seattle School Board races check out Times reporter Emily Heffter's campaign notebook that went live this week.

Here's some interesting tidbits from yesterday:

The two incumbents running for re-election in this year's School Board races are way behind in fundraising.

And:

The biggest contributors to any of the races -- by far -- are Bellevue cellular magnate John Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie. Together, they gave $12,000 to Peter Maier's campaign, $8,000 to Sherry Carr's campaign, $6,000 to Steve Sundquist's campaign, and $4,000 to Harium Martin-Morris' campaign.

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October 9, 2007 3:09 PM

New House clerk named

Posted by David Postman

The House Democrat's policy director, Barbara Baker, will be the new House clerk. She has been at the House since 1996 and spent the past seven as the caucus' top policy analyst.

Speaker Frank Chopp made the announcement today. She will be confirmed by the House when the Legislature convenes in January.


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October 9, 2007 8:14 AM

Meet Strangie

Posted by David Postman

The man behind the campaign to get Seattle's alt-weeklies to stop running tobacco ads is named Jeff Weedman. I found him by checking to see who registered the Adventures of Strangie website. I asked him what he knew about the site and the anti-tobacco campaign. He said by e-mail:

I'm the creator of the Strangie site.

But that's all he said. I asked some follow up questions, and while I wait for an answer, here's what I know about the creator of Strangie. Weedman is a 37-year-old Seattle resident. He doesn't like smoking or the viaduct, he's an artist who worked on the Washington Free Press and he's a fan of certain Stranger comics.

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October 8, 2007 3:22 PM

Locke endorses Clinton

Posted by David Postman

Former Gov. Gary Locke is backing Hillary Clinton for president, the campaign said today. Locke be co-chair of Clinton's Technology and Telecom Working Group and will be the third man named as a co-chair of the senator's Washington campaign. Congressman Jay Inslee was first to endorse and first to get the nod as a chairman, then Ron Sims and now Locke.

Clinton will be in Seattle Oct. 22.

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October 8, 2007 3:17 PM

Who's Strangie?

Posted by David Postman

Someone wants The Stranger and the Weekly, but particularly The Stranger, to stop selling ad space to tobacco companies. The person, or persons or group, is publishing a weekly comic strip, The Adventures of Strangie, to ridicule the paper into dropping the ads. Publisher Tim Keck is portrayed in one strip.

And in an open letter to the publishers of Seattle's weekly papers, the anonymous I -- and not I Anonymous -- writes:

I am calling on Tim Keck, Ken Stocker, Craig Bednar, and George Bakan to meet with each other and create a pact to stop advertising tobacco altogether.

Further, I am calling on all employees to consider where your paychecks are coming from, and to stand up to your employers.

I am challenging each and every one of you to no longer accept the status quo.

Take a stand and do what is right.

I've e-mailed Strangie and his friends but haven't heard back yet. Dan Savage told me that he just asked that the site be added to the "Friends of Slog" list. And asked for comment, he wrote::

i hate cigarettes, but cigarette ads are the publisher's call, not mine

Speaking of the publisher, Tim Keck says he hasn't been contacted directly by Strangie. And I'm not sure it'll work if the comic and the site is aimed at getting the paper's employees to bring pressure against tobacco ads. Keck says he's never gotten a complaint from a staffer. He writes:

Our readers are educated adults who can make up their own minds about smoking, drinking and fixed gear bikes.

We've added their site to our "Friends of The Stranger" Slog roll. Who doesn't love a didactic comic with the Space Needle as the protagonist?

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October 8, 2007 11:21 AM

Shock! Some might say Springsteen is anti-war

Posted by David Postman

Bruce Springsteen's appearance on 60 Minutes last night is getting some negative and positive attention for his comments about what he described as the "distance between American ideals and American reality."

Springsteen's new album is political and in parts clearly anti-war. "Last to Die" is an obvious homage to what the young Vietnam vet John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Springsteen sings:

Who'll be the last to die for a mistake/The last to die for a mistake/Whose blood will spill, whose heart will break/Who'll be the last to die for a mistake.

Early mentions of the album point out that "Bruce's Magic Has Anti-War Message" and "Springsteen takes on war, Bush in 'Magic'.", though one reviewer said the "the anti-war rockers "Livin' In the Future" and "Last to Die"" are an exception among lyrics that "mostly bypass political ideology and instead ponder the vagaries of love and the reckless freedom of youth."

Given all that, what struck me watching Scott Pelley interview Springsteen was this question:

"You know, I think this record is going to be seen as anti-war. And you know there are people watching this interview who are going to say to themselves, 'Bruce Springsteen is no patriot.'"

It's not even a question, but the sort of comment reporters use to elicit a response without wanting to take ownership of a question. (See also, Katie Couric interviews Bush. ) Springsteen's response:

"Well, that's just the language of the day, you know? The modus operandi for anybody who doesn't like somebody, you know, criticizing where we've been or where we're goin'. ... It's unpatriotic at any given moment to sit back and let things pass that are damaging to some place that you love so dearly. And that has given me so much. And that I believe in, I still feel and see us as a beacon of hope and possibility."

Pelley makes "anti-war" sound like "Red" circa 1954, and in doing so, he plays to the worst of "the language of the day." But it did allow Springsteen to deliver a commentary on the mix of music and politics:

"The American idea is a beautiful idea. It needs to be preserved, served, protected and sung out. Sung out."

But in all that was said by Springsteen, what struck me most is what Springsteen said about why he left the E Street Band for a while to go solo:

"We all have stories we're living and telling ourselves. And there's a time when that narrative has to be broken because you've run out of freedom in it. You've run out of places to go."

"Breaking the narrative" could be the name of a self-help book or some new psychotherapy. I'm not sure what that means to me, or more generally to politics, newspapers or blogging. But it's stuck in my head this morning, and if I figure it out I'll let you know.

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October 5, 2007 3:59 PM

GOP wants to give Pope dose of his own medicine

Posted by David Postman

The King County Republican Party is starting to take Richard Pope seriously. The party tried ignoring the gadfly, even when he had evidence the party had violated campaign finance laws and when he became a Democrat to run against Republican County Councilwoman Jane Hague. But following Hague's string of recent troubles, the party has funded an anti-Pope Web site.

The party has produced "The Truth On Pope," made to look like a newspaper site, with headlines and bylines on "stories." The Web site recounts Pope's political, personal and legal troubles and includes links to documents and news reports to back up the claims.

Pope has had a scandal-plagued career as a lawyer and as a failed candidate, running a record-setting 10 straight losing campaigns for office.

The party dug through court records to find some news on Pope, an attorney.

Last year Richard Pope filed suit against Costco because he contends Costco's "90-day emergency food supply package "discriminated against him because his religious beliefs required him to keep one year's food supply" and the Costco Pack, "provided less than one third the calories that the Nazi's gave to concentration camp inmates at Auschwitz." The Suit was dismissed on May 3rd 2007. (LINK: COURT DOCUMENTS)

Pope is a frequent commenter on local political blogs and an active tipster, posting and e-mailing what he's found from his own trolling of court files.

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October 5, 2007 11:06 AM

What I learned in school this week

Posted by David Postman

I'm co-teaching — with Times editor Jim Simon — a UW class on political reporting this fall. Thursday, the class heard from our first guest speakers: Democratic campaign consultant Christian Sinderman and Chris Vance, the former chair of the Republican Party and now a public affairs consultant.

It was an on-the-record discussion. (It's worth teaching journalism students that off-the-record is overused and widely abused.) It was wide-ranging, too, and Sinderman and Vance were candid and insightful. I was particularly interested in what they said about the race for county prosecutor between Republican Dan Satterberg and Democrat Bill Sherman. Sinderman is working for Sherman. Vance has no professional connection to the race.

They agreed on the issue most likely to sway voters: Party affiliation. It's not about experience, qualifications, character or endorsements.

For Sherman's campaign, that means moving away an earlier track of pledging fealty to Norm Maleng-like non-partisanship. You could see the early theme in this Sherman campaign e-mail from July 1:

I have friends at different prosecuting agencies around the country, and I am well aware that the fair and nonpolitical way Norm ran our office is both precious and rare. Please rest assured that I am dedicated to carrying on Norm's tradition of blind and impartial justice.

But Sinderman said the prosecutor's office is as much a political as legal job. And that's why more and more the campaign and the candidate talk about Satterberg's party ID as much as anything he has done, or not done in his years as Maleng's No. 2.

"Our frame ... is to keep the focus on the political part of that job."

If you want the plain-talk version of that, here's David Goldstein, excoriating Democrats who endorsed Satterberg:

This is a partisan political race, and Democrats need to wake up to what is at stake. This is not about whether Satterberg is a good lawyer or an experienced administrator or decent guy. It's about whether or not he is a Republican.

And in this race, facing a qualified Democratic opponent, that should be all we need to know.

He may be right. Satterberg has tried to combat that with an impressive list of endorsements from prominent Democrats who all pay homage to his non-partisanship. But Vance said endorsements do little to move voters. And he was unsure whether Satterberg would be able to raise enough money to neutralize the power of the D behind Sherman's name.

"It's just an enormous challenge," Vance said.

(I heard Satterberg say this week on 710 KIRO that he wants to make the office officially a non-partisan position. That's one way to deal with his challenge.)

But I don't think it's easy to run a campaign based on the less than black-and-white distinction of a wholly partisan election that would lead to purely non-partisan administration of justice. You can see some of that delicate balance in coverage of this week's debate between Satterberg and Sherman. The Times reported:

The Republican and Democratic candidates for King County prosecuting attorney, who both say party politics has no place in the halls of justice, debated Wednesday whether voters ought to consider the values of their respective political parties when choosing between them.

...

Sherman, running in a county that tends to vote Democratic when all else is equal, said that although justice should be blind to political party, something can be learned about the values and priorities of candidates based on their party affiliation.

And the P-I led its story with a good description of how the two candidates deal with the reality of the county's Democratic voting majority.

Dan Satterberg wrapped himself in non-partisanship and the legacy of Norm Maleng. Bill Sherman wrapped himself in the Democratic Party.

MORE: It was pointed out to me that the ad at the top of this page is a Dan Satterberg ad touting his non-partisanship credentials as he continues that strategy.

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October 4, 2007 3:52 PM

Working across the aisle

Posted by David Postman

"This is not a political issue. This is an issue of getting children health care. We have to work together in order to make that happen in this country."
Gov. Christine Gregoire, Oct. 1, announcing a lawsuit against the federal government over implementation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"The Republican party's opposition to children's health care is shameful and represents the fundamental difference in values that our next election will be fought over."
Gregoire, from a Sept. 18 fundraising appeal

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October 4, 2007 11:04 AM

Court says state can't stop campaign lies

Posted by David Postman

A divided opinion by the state Supreme Court this morning struck down Washington's truth in campaigning law. In a 5-4 decision, the court said the law, specifically amended by the Legislature in an attempt to carve out a constitutional prohibition against campaign lies, is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Justice James Johnson was joined in the majority opinion by Charles Johnson, Susan Owens, Richard Sanders and Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, who wrote a separate concurrence but agreed with the majority's result. Johnson wrote:

The notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment. Because RCW 42.17.530(1)(a) rests on the validity of this erroneous assumption, it must be struck down.

The case stems from the 2002 campaign season when Marilou Rickert challenged Sen. Tim Sheldon. Rickert accused Sheldon in a mailing of voting to close a facility for the developmentally disabled. Sheldon said that was false, filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission, and Rickert was eventually found in violation of the law.

Today's ruling upholds a state Court of Appeals decision from 2005.

The Supreme Court majority said:

Particularly relevant here is the fundamental First Amendment principle forbidding censorship or coerced silence in the context of political debate. "The First Amendment exists precisely to protect against laws . . . which suppress ideas and inhibit free discussion of governmental affairs." Id. at 627; see also White, 536 U.S. at 774 (political speech is "'at the core of our First Amendment freedoms'" (quoting Kelly, 247 F.3d at 861)). Hence, the Sedition Act of 1798, which censored speech about government, has been subject to nearly unanimous historical condemnation. See, e.g., New York Times, 376 U.S. at 274. For similar reasons, RCW 42.17.530(1)(a) is deserving of condemnation, lacks a compelling justification, and thus must be declared unconstitutional.


The court said the law is not only unconstitutional, but unnecessary.

In the case at bar, Ms. Rickert made knowingly false or reckless statements about Senator Sheldon, a man with an outstanding reputation. Senator Sheldon and his (many) supporters responded to Ms. Rickert's false statements with the truth. As a consequence, Ms. Rickert's statements appear to have had little negative impact on Senator Sheldon's successful campaign and may even have increased his vote. ... Were there injury to Senator Sheldon's reputation, compensation would be available through a defamation action. As it is, Ms. Rickert was singled out by the PDC for punishment, six months after the election, based on statements that had no apparent impact on the government interests allegedly furthered by the statute. That the statute may be applied in such a manner proves that it is fatally flawed under the First Amendment.

The dissent was written by Justice Barbara Madsen and signed by Tom Chambers, Mary Fairhurst and Bobbe Bridge. Madsen argues that the majority misreads precedents and goes way too far in throwing out the law.


Unfortunately, the majority's decision is an invitation to lie with impunity. The majority opinion advances the efforts of those who would turn political campaigns into contests of the best stratagems of lies and deceit, to the end that honest discourse and honest candidates are lost in the maelstrom. The majority does no service to the people of Washington when it turns the First Amendment into a shield for the "unscrupulous . . . and skillful" liar to use knowingly false statements as an "effective political tool" in election campaigns.

...

The majority is also wrong when it asserts that the only time that a false
statement about a candidate for office can be burdened is when the statement
constitutes civil defamation, actionable in tort law. This premise is no more
accurate than the majority's conclusion that government cannot regulate political speech by proscribing the known lie.

Madsen also wrote that the majority's standard that only lies where actual malice can be proven means there cannot be any controls.

Further, the majority refuses to recognize that the actual malice standard is an exceedingly high standard to meet. Most political speech does not even approach being subject to regulation under this standard; the standard prohibits only the very worst untruths — those made with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard to truth or falsity. In addition, the burden of proof is also high — proof must be by clear and convincing evidence. The actual malice standard is deliberately difficult to satisfy, precisely because free speech rights are at issue. Therefore, much nuanced speech, and all speech that constitutes opinion rather than fact, will simply fall short of it.

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October 4, 2007 8:03 AM

Reporter takes wide stance to check Craig's story

Posted by David Postman

(If you're not seeing the embedded video, click here.)

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October 3, 2007 11:48 AM

Someone needs to save the media from itself

Posted by David Postman

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October 3, 2007 8:38 AM

State economist may run for treasurer

Posted by David Postman

Chang Mook Sohn, the state's chief economist, is considering a run for state treasurer. There's been a lot of talk around the Capitol about that, but when I asked Sohn about it several weeks ago he would only say it was one of many things he was thinking about as a next step.

But I missed this story in the Northwest Asian Weekly two weeks ago that said Sohn is exploring a run. After 23 years in the assiduously non-partisan post, Sohn would run as a Democrat.

State Treasurer Mike Murphy is retiring next year. Already state Rep. Jim McIntire, D-Seattle, has announced he'll run for the job. Murphy's deputy, Allan Martin, has also said he'll run as a Republican.

Sohn would be an interesting candidate. In nearly 15 years of covering him I've never heard anyone suggest any sort of partisan bias in his work, though lawmakers have not always agreed with his forecasts. The complaints were that Sohn was too conservative in his economic outlook. During the state's boom years, some lawmakers took to calling him Dr. Doom.

I wrote a story about Sohn for The News Tribune in 1993. I called him "one of the quietest men in state government." But he also had a reputation for independence from the lawmakers who officially are his bosses on the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. He told me:

"I'd rather resign than become the council's puppet."

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October 2, 2007 4:33 PM

Hague judge at least temporarily removed from case

Posted by David Postman

The Seattle Weekly is reporting:

King County District Court Presiding Judge Barbara Linde said this afternoon she has already notified pro tem judge Richard Llewelyn Jones of his removal for failing to report his own criminal background.

And credit or blame apparently can be given to Hauge's opponent, Lord of the Gadflies, Richard Pope. Pope raised questions about the pro-tem judge assigned to the case, Richard Llewelyn Jones.

In an e-mail to Linde and county officials (including Hague) earlier today, Pope raised questions about the propriety of using Jones as a fill-in judge on the DUI case.

...

Pope said Jones shouldn't have been allowed to preside at the hearing because the temporary judge — a Bellevue attorney — has a criminal record and is a "Republican activist."

MORE: Jeff Davis of Madison Communications, the firm doing Hague's political consultanting, writes to say:

Judge Llewelyn-Jones is not the Judge of Record for that case. He was a pro-tem judge stepping in during an absence by the actual Judge of Record, Peter Nault.

All past, and all future, hearings on this case have been/and will be heard
by Judge Peter Nault.

This pretrial conference was the only time that this pro tem judge will be
involved in this case.


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October 2, 2007 8:57 AM

An off-topic nod to one who blogs for free

Posted by David Postman

This summer I read a great take-down of the voodoo economics of Web 2.0 by Philip Dawdy, a former Seattle Weekly writer. He now writes a blog about mental health issues, Furious Seasons, and was responding in June to an invitation from a Seattle company to write for its new site. For free. Dawdy responded with a post titled, "Content creators starve while techies eat free lunches."

Meanwhile, the people who actually create the content in the media world — here comes that word the Web 2.0 dorks really hate: reporters — are getting pushed out of their jobs in numbers that can't have been around since TV started sticking it to newspapers in the 1950s. And where they aren't losing their jobs, they are discouraged and running scared and concerned about how they will make ends meet in a post-print world — because that's where the economics of the game are pushing the information space ship — and puzzled about how it is exactly enough people will be able to be employed to undertake the professional task of producing precisely the content and the depth of content the Web 2.0 entrepreneurs need in order to push varied content around enough in their big old electronic library of mankind for them to become as rich as oil sheiks. And gift their employees three squares each workday, gratis.

As Dawdy pointed out, "no one will do for free the kind of journalism the Web 2.0 crowd thinks it's creating."

Journalism costs money. If you're talking investigative reporting, it'll cost more especially if there are loads of public records and lawyers at the party. If you just want to slap content around that sort of sounds like it's floating around the truth in the half-informed commentary that the blogosphere is heir to — instead of being able to legitimately offer said truth — then I guess you can get it for free. But I'm not blogging for free for someone else. I can do that for myself quite nicely.

And he has, paying the bills with freelance work during the day and tackling Furious Seasons after hours. But now Dawdy wants to work on his blog full time and is asking his readers to help him raise $6,000 to pay him for three months of work.

Basically, I want you to hire me.

I'm glad to see Dawdy is going directly to his readers. I gave a little bit because I appreciate the work he puts into the blog and, I must say, his defense of content providers. If you have any interest in the issues Dawdy writes about, the blog is worth a read.

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October 1, 2007 1:46 PM

Gregoire mystified by Sims move on transpo vote

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Christine Gregoire was asked at her press conference this morning if she had a chance to talk to King County Executive Ron Sims before the exec came out in opposition to this fall's road and rail ballot measure. She said:

"He's told me all the way along that he wasn't going to do what he did. So I had no reason to talk with him. I was surprised by what he did.

"You know, I love Ron. So he did whatever he did, for whatever reason he did, but he has absolutely told me that you can rest assured I am not going to get out on this issue. I'm not going to encourage or take a public position that would say vote no on this. So I don't know what happened that brought him to that conclusion. Having said that, I respectfully just disagree."

Sims explained last week what happened that led to the change of heart. And he told me again today via e-mail:

The attention surrounding my public neutrality led to personal reflection on whether to continue to make a strategic decision or an authentic one on this ballot measure.

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October 1, 2007 1:15 PM

In other news

Posted by David Postman

  • Rudy Giuliani was in the area Saturday.

  • At Respectfully Republican, Patrick applauds Dave Reichert's call — in this column in The Hill — for Republicans to embrace environmentalism. Reichert wrote that his most important message to fellow Republicans was:

    For too long our party has rejected environmentalism. As the country has continually grown to expect its leaders to protect the environment, we have made ourselves absent from the debate. With all due respect to the other party, it is not healthy for our country to only have one set of solutions to our environmental problems. Without acknowledging that those problems exist, Republicans exempt themselves from being able to provide conservative and market-driven solutions.

  • At The Slog, Eli Sanders looks at a recent presidential poll in the state and, what does he find?
    What was already suspected. Voters in this state are very excited about Obama, but elsewhere in the country it's Clinton who is better positioned to win.

    This is a point that Sanders made last week, and he reports that Obama's lead here over Clinton appears to be due mostly to their positions on the war.

    It's interesting that Seattle is a center of strong, anti-war-fueled support for Obama, but the city is not one of 18 his campaign has chosen for events tomorrow -- the fifth anniversary of Obama's first major anti-war speech.

  • At the Seattle Weekly, Rick Anderson is keeping track of war dead and says Washington state has passed a landmark.

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October 1, 2007 12:35 PM

Justices hear state's top-two primary case

Posted by David Postman

The U.S. Supreme Court posted the transcript of this morning's hearing on Washington state's primary election case. The court is hearing an appeal on Washington's top-two primary system that would move the top two vote-getters to the general election ballot, even if they are of the same party. The state's political parties sued, and won at the 9th Circuit, to stop that voter-approved method. Candidates could call themselves Republicans or Democrats no matter what the parties said.

In today's hearing, state Attorney General Rob McKenna told the justices:

There is no evidence in the record that the parties will be harmed by the expression of party preference.

JUSTICE SCALIA: We know what -- what it's going to be like. We don't know the exact phrasing on the ballot, but we do know that a candidate is allowed
to associate himself with a party, but a party is not allowed to disociate itself from the candidate. I am less concerned about the fact that the
candidate can't say I'm the — I'm the no-taxes candidate, than I am about the fact that he can associate himself with the Republican Party or the Democratic Party on the ballot and that party has no opportunity on the ballot to say, we have nothing to do with this person. That it seems to me is a great disadvantage to the parties.

MR. McKENNA: Justice Scalia, there may be an association in the dictionary sense, in the same way that a candidate who expressed a preference for one
public policy versus another may be associated. But in the constitutional sense, this Court has found that there is a forced association only when the objecting
party is compelled to speak it or when the objecting party is ...

JUSTICE SCALIA: I'm not talking about a First Amendment forced association. I'm talking about an association for purposes of making this a fair election at which the parties have an opportunity to nominate and support their own candidates. And what this system creates is a ballot in which an individual
can associate himself with the Republican Party, but on the ballot the Republican Party is unable to dissociate itself from that candidate.

Scalia was clearly concerned about the political parties ability to say whether they approve of any candidate running with a party label. He asked McKenna about what the ballot would look like in a top-two primary.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Will, will it say whether the party that is preferred likes this candidate?

MR. McKENNA: It will say, Your Honor, if you would look to the sample ...

JUSTICE SCALIA: I think you can say yes or no to that. Will it say whether the party for which he expresses a preference claims or disclaims him?

MR. McKENNA: It will stay that it is not a statement by the political party identifying that candidate.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Please answer yes or no. Will it say whether the party for which he has expressed a preference claims or disavows him?

MR. McKENNA: It will not, Your Honor.

JUSTICE SCALIA: All right.

McKenna told the court that Washington voters chose the top-two primary "which vindicates both the rights of the parties and the people." But in this exchange, Chief Justice John Roberts says the parties' interest in protecting who calls themselves a Democrat or Republicans is like a trademark case.

McKenna said:

The parties can select their standard-bearers without any state interference, adopting their own nomination process.

And the people are not limited to candidates selected by the parties. They have more choice, which is a value that was validated in the Jones decision, albeit holding that you can't do that with nonmembers selecting the party's nominees. The parties, though, argue that no candidate can even state an expression of party preference, cannot make an expression of party preference on the ballot without the party's consent. Taken to its logical conclusion, the parties are really claiming they have a First Amendment right to require the state to place a
single candidate of their choosing on the ballot. If you look at the joint appendix, page 13 ...

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But clearly, it's just like a trademark case. I mean, they're claiming their people are going to be confused. They are going to think this person is affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Party when they may, in fact, not be at all.

MR. McKENNA: Mr. Chief Justice, they make that claim without the benefit of any evidence. The Ninth Circuit and the district court and the parties simply assume this will happen, and they assume, for example, that ballot looks just like the old nominating primary ballot, when, in fact, as we've shown, it clearly will not. And, of course, we don't believe trademark law applies here in this case, although I can address that if you wish.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I didn't suggest it would be a trademark violation. I think I said it was just like the same analysis. And I don't know why you would give greater protection to the makers of products than you give to people in the political process.

MR. McKENNA: They deserve protection, of course, Mr. Chief Justice. The question is whether or not merely allowing someone to express their party preference somehow will mislead the voters. This Court has shown more faith in the voters than that.

Republican Party attorney John White represented the political parties in this morning's hearing. He said the parties have a right to put their stamp on nominees.

JUSTICE SOUTER: Well, they will pay no attention, I take it, in the sense that there will be nothing indicating an official nomination on the ballot itself. But as I — I am also assuming that the parties through a convention, or whatever other scheme they can come up with, can — can designate an official nominee quite independently of this ballot. And if they do so designate, they can campaign on that person's behalf.

The person in campaigning can say, I am the official nominee of the X party. And those facts are true, aren't they?

MR. WHITE: They are, your honor, but that converts the right to nominate to a mere right to endorse, and this Court has recognized that the ability to endorse a candidate is no substitute ...

JUSTICE SOUTER: You're saying that a right to nominate has to be a right to exclude everyone from the ballot except the nominee — everyone from the ballot under that banner, from the nominee.

MR. WHITE: To be — to be a meaningful right to nominate, yes, Your Honor. It ...

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Where does that right come from? I thought in Jones, the Court had said if you had just a blanket primary, with no indication of party affiliation, that that would be constitutional.

And if that's so, then parties don't have any right to have a candidate.

MR. WHITE: I'm not suggesting that the parties have a constitutional right to place their party name on a truly nonpartisan ballot, and I think what the Jones Court was hypothesizing was the true nonpartisan primary where there are no party identifications. Our objection is not to a — necessarily to a nonpartisan ballot. It's to a partisan ballot where the state is going to put someone else on that ballot using our party's name and competing against our nominee under ...

JUSTICE GINSBURG: So you would have no objection if this — everything was the same, except no party affiliation were shown.

MR. WHITE: That ...

JUSTICE GINSBURG: That would be constitutional?

MR. WHITE: That would not violate our First Amendment rights, your honor.

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October 1, 2007 10:34 AM

High court won't hear appeal by Justice Sanders

Posted by David Postman

Mike Reitz at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation blog finds that the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders' appeal of an official admonishment he got for visiting inmates at McNeil Island.

In October of 2006 a panel of lower court judges filling in for the state Supreme Court said in its ruling:

"By asking questions of inmates who were or should have been recognized as potential litigants on issues currently pending before the court, Justice Richard B. Sanders violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. ... His appearance created an appearance of partiality."

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Recent entries

Oct 31, 07 - 03:51 PM
Ethel Adams and her insurance company

Oct 31, 07 - 02:26 PM
Burgess & his money set new city campaign record

Oct 31, 07 - 01:49 PM
Rep. Curtis resigns

Oct 31, 07 - 09:47 AM
Curtis told cops a lot, but tried to keep tryst quiet

Oct 30, 07 - 04:08 PM
Sherman asked prosecutors for campaign cash

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