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

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February 9, 2008 12:57 PM

Local GOP official bars student reporter from caucus

Posted by David Postman

A Republican Party official told a University of Washington blogger he was not allowed to talk to caucus goers outside a Seattle Public Library branch and threatened to have the young man removed by a sheriff’s deputy if he did not leave.

Charles Cadwallader, 22, is a senior journalism major at UW. He is working today as part of professor David Domke’s blogging class, which has been maintaining a caucus news site. The students have also been contributing to my blog and we are planning on using their reports today.

Cadwallader said that as he was standing outside the Columbia Branch Library at Alaska Street and Rainier Avenue, he was approached by Ross Marzolf, the chairman of the 37th District Republicans. When the students were choosing their caucus sites to cover, Marzolf had told Cadwallader last week the students would not be welcome in the caucus because, “he just didn’t want anything written about the 37th.”

Cadwallader went there this morning to talk to Republicans on their way into the caucus. Marzolf approached him. Cadwallader told me:

"He said, ‘No press is going to be allowed’ and then he said he’d really like it if I left. I said I understood but that I’m going to stay. And he said they had a deputy sheriff inside and he would have him come out and ask me to leave.”

So far, no deputy has come out.

The students have had no other problems gaining access to caucus sites, either Democratic or Republican. Times reporters out today have also had no problems.

I do not know under what authority Marzolf is keeping reporters from his caucus, much less from the public area outside the library. But I’m trying to find out.

King County Republican Chairman Michael Young just told me it is not party policy to bar the press and he said, “I don’t know why Ross is making that judgment call.”

“My position is unless the press is creating a problem they are welcome to attend all of our caucuses. We're very open.”

UPDATE:
I just spoke with Cadwallader again. He asked the branch librarian about whether the press could be barred from the building. They can’t. And the librarian told Marzlof that reporters would have to be allowed in.

Before letting that happen, Marzolf stood on a chair in the room, Cadwallader said, and warned caucus participants that the press would soon be inside with them. Marzolf still said the reporters cannot talk to anyone inside and could not take any photographs. The no photo order was overruled by the librarian who said that was outside the Republican’s authority.

Boy, you’ve got to wonder what those 37th District Republicans have planned today.

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