Strippergate, Politics, and the Law

STRIPPERGATE

Former Gov. Albert Rosellini's lobbying on behalf of adult-entertainment interests is not limited to the recent Seattle City Council imbroglio over Rick's strip club, according to State Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park. In 1996, Fairley says she was startled to receive a call from Rosellini, whose career she admires and who is a friend of her father's, concerning her bill establishing "state standards for adult entertainment." Fairley's bill, which passed the state Senate but died in the House, would have killed lap dancing at clubs by requiring dancers to keep at least four feet away from customers. Fairley says the former governor called out of the blue while she was working late at night in her legislative office. "'I want you to drop that bill,'" she recalls being told. She refused. They debated the matter. Fairley, who is paralyzed from the waist down, adds that Rosellini told her that he was acquainted with some strip-club owners and they were contributors to the Special Olympics. She says she remained unmoved, even when Rosellini later complained to her dad. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

POLITICS

Apparently demonstrating his Microsoft smarts, retired Redmond COO Bob Herbold announced Monday, Aug. 11, that he would not be a candidate for governor in '04. The state GOP had pinned its hopes on the deep-pocketed high-tech vet, and the White House had encouraged him to run. But in declining, he made an observation that many executives-turned-candidates have failed to note: Politics ain't business (at least not yet), and you can't manage a state like a CEO. "I really like tackling business problems," Herbold wrote in his press release. But "working to implement significant change in a political setting is totally different." Three cheers for one Republican who understands that. KNUTE BERGER

THE LAW

A new federal Securities and Exchange Commission ethics rule encouraging attorneys to turn in some of their fraudulent corporate clients appears destined for failure, at least in Washington state. The state bar has drawn the SEC's ire for flatly refusing to permit attorneys to turn in captains of industry who commit major fraud. The Washington State Bar Association issued an informal opinion July 26 stating that "a Washington lawyer should not reveal such confidences and secrets unless authorized to do so" by the Rules of Professional Conduct. That flies in the face of the SEC rule that took effect last week. Inspired by the massive, Enron-style frauds of recent years, regulators sought to loosen the tongues of lawyers who in 42 states can already voluntarily blow the whistle on some clients who break the law. The American Bar Association this week also recommended the confidentiality rules be changed to make fraud reporting easier. But attorneys in Washington and seven other states could face state disciplinary action if they start turning in CEOs. The Washington State Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the bar's long-standing no-ratting rule. In April the court suspended Tacoma attorney Doug Schafer for six months after he revealed a client's wrongdoing as part of Schafer's campaign to expose a corrupt judge. Schafer said the ruling "ranks lawyer-client secrecy as more important than judicial system integrity." The bar says Schafer had other recourses, and so do attorneys representing corporate criminals. Nothing "prevents a lawyer from reporting a material violation of law to the appropriate authorities within the corporation," the bar says in its opinion, "up to and including the corporation's board of directors." It didn't say, however, what to do if the board is corrupt, too. RICK ANDERSON

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