King County Ombudsman Amy Calderwood today found that city council candidate Jessie Israel improperly used her position as marketing manager at the county parks department to solicit campaign support from her fellow county employees.
"There is reasonable cause to believe that Jessie Israel violated the King County Employee Code of Ethics, KCC 3.04.020(E), when she sent an email soliciting support for her political campaign to the work email addresses of 210 King County employees," Calderwood concluded.On Jan. 29, Israel sent out a campaign email that included the logo from her campaign Web site to all potential supporters, including some of her coworkers. She promised to "bring a fresh way of doing things to Council" and asked for donations and endorsements.
And some people who received the e-mail were happy to help out. She had raised $12,018 for her run at Nick Licata's seat, including small donations from Dow Constantine's legislative aide James Bush and Ron Sims' spokesperson Carolyn Duncan, according to the most recent city elections reports.
But someone didn't appreciate it and on Jan. 30, the ombudsman's office received a citizen's complaint. Today Calderwood issued her four page ruling, which thanks Israel for her cooperation in investigating the complaint, and "is aware of no evidence contradicting her assertion that the email was sent to county addresses by accident." But sent they were, which violates state campaign ethics rules.
Deputy Ombudsman Chuck Sloane says it will be up to Israel's department and the King County Board of Elections to take any discplinary action if they see fit. Calderwood's opinion was also CC'd to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, but Sloane says, "I don't think, at this point, there's any potential criminal implication."
Israel did not immediately respond to a message left on her cell phone this morning.
Israel called back to say that the e-mail she sent out was sent from her home computer and she has since fixed the system she uses for e-mail blasts to ensure no one at King County will get e-mails on their work addresses. "It absolutely will not happen again," she says. "As a candidate and as a public employee--I'm held to a higher standard. I know that, I accept that, it was an error I regret."