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September 25, 2006

Green candidate Dixon says Cantwell campaign wanted him out of race

Posted by David Postman at 9:40 PM

Green Party Senate candidate Aaron Dixon says someone on Maria Cantwell's campaign tried to talk him into quitting the race with the promise that the senator's supporters would donate money to the non-profit group that Dixon founded.

Cantwell campaign spokeswoman Katharine Lister said she did not know of any staffer in contact with Dixon and said no one on the campaign "was authorized to speak with Mr. Dixon about his candidacy This is consistent with the Cantwell campaign's strict policy of not hiring felons."

(There was no allegation that he was offered a job, but Lister is obviously referring to Dixon's criminal record, as reported by horsesass.org and the Spokesman Review. Dixon responded to the reports on his website.)

Dixon's allegations were reported today by Joshua Frank at World News Trust, a "grassroots, independent news media project." Frank wrote:

As Dixon tells it, "Mark [Wilson] called and basically told me that a lot of people have a lot of money within the Cantwell campaign, and he said that they could put on a fundraiser for Central House that would 'blow my mind.' He called a week later and basically told me the same thing. I didn't bite, ending this war is too important."

When asked if exiting the race would have been contingent on there being a fundraiser for his organization, Dixon answered, "It wasn't said directly, but it was certainly implied."

Dixon also said that Mark Wilson was not the only Cantwell staffer to call his campaign headquarters with the hope of convincing him to drop out, but Dixon declined to elaborate. The Cantwell campaign declined to comment on Dixon's allegations.

Wilson is Cantwell's former Democratic primary opponent who folded his campaign and took an $8,000-a-month job with the senator's re-election campaign.

Earlier tonight I talked with Dixon spokesman Mike Gillis. He confirmed Frank's report. He says the calls came in July right before the deadline for filing for office.

"There were heavy implications that Central House would be getting a lot of money if Aaron would drop out of the race, which is about as close to a buy-out as you can get.

"There was another one a week later, a bit more urgent."

Dixon founded Central House in 2002 to provide housing for homeless teenagers.

Gillis said Dixon has not talked about the calls publicly until the interview with Frank. "We were planning on it coming out eventually," he said. When Frank asked Dixon about the calls, Dixon told him what happened.

Gillis repeated the allegation that someone else with the Cantwell campaign also contacted Dixon, but he wouldn't say who it was. Gillis checked with the campaign manager to see if he could tell me who it was, but he called back to say the campaign was not ready to release that information. But he said the name would be released in the future.

I'm not sure why the Dixon campaign would withhold that bit of information while confirming the rest of the story, or why the campaign sat on the story since July.

I wish I could talk to Wilson about this directly. But he has not responded to questions since going to work for Cantwell and the campaign says he will not be made available to talk about this. Lister's statements clearly say there was no official approach made to Dixon and she didn't know of anything unofficial, either. But she doesn't say it didn't happen. Wilson is the one who could answer that.

UPDATE: I missed Frank's post when it first appeared at BrickBurner.org and counterpunch.org.

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