Sar & Did
Like Clint Didier's crops, it was a bountiful year for political scandals and screwballs. Pam Roach and Matt Richardson showed us why ballots really should include that line, "None of the above," while Seattle consulting firm Moxie Media got so caught up in the election frenzy it began running free ads for candidates--uh-huh. Patty Murray was found to be operating a training school for lobbyists, Chris Gregoire watched the ferry system sink into unnecessary debt, and Hans Zeiger recanted his rap on gays while fellow state legislator Matt Shea wondered if Obama was Stalin or Hitler? Like we said, quite the bloomin' year.
Sar & Did
9. Roach Race:
9. Roach Race:Until this year, Pam Roach was just the state senator who pulled a gun on a staffer, had a temper tantrum when someone moved the roses on her desk, and had been barred from her own party caucuses. Then came challenger Matt Richardson to help her compete in what some called America's slimiest state campaign, the 31st District all-Republican race. Among other highlights, Roach sued Richardson for defamation (and won); blogged about his reckless driving; and linked her website to a video in which a man accused Richardson of having had sex with the man's wife. Her campaign backers called him "a danger to children." If voters missed the message, she made it clearer with a campaign mailer depicting him as a child molester leering through a playground fence at little girls. (Richardson did plead guilty in 1993 to a misdemeanor sex crime--committed in 1982 when he was a teenager). In the end, it didn't matter who won: the voters lost.
8. Foxy Moxie: After incumbent Democrat state senator Jean Berkey of Everett finished third in the primary, she claimed Seattle's Moxie Media and some political action committees "likely conspired" to oppose her re-election. Moxie consulted for a coalition of labor unions and social progressives that financed a $300,000 campaign opposing Berkey and supporting a Democratic challenger, Nick Harper. Berkey said Moxie ran ads that were part of a "shell game ... to unseat me. " Moxie's answer when asked who, exactly, financed the questioned ads? Nobody. Moxie couldn't get the opposition groups to agree to support the ads, so it footed a $9,000 tab itself. Claimed Moxie founder Lisa MacLean: "I had to eat it." That was Berkey's suggestion too, sort of.
7. Patty U: On the public's dollar, Sen. Patty Murray has been training a small army of staffers to turn loose on D.C. as lobbyists. At least 17 of the senator's former aides-turned-elbow-twisters are capitalizing on their insider knowledge and connections to win favor for their clients, including lucrative earmarks handed out by Murray herself, the Times reported. At least nine of her defense-bill earmarks worth $19.5 million were awarded to clients of her former aides who now work as lobbyists. This bit of news arose around the time Murray was calling opponent Dino Rossi unethical because of his ties to lobbyists. Murray stepped around her hypocrisy and went on to win a toss-up election. Her only goal with earmarks was to create jobs, she said. Well, that's 17 we know about.
6. Cookie Monster: As the 25th District's State Rep, 25-year-old Hans Zeiger says he no longer stands by the comments of college student Hans Zeiger, who, a few years back, thought the Girl Scouts of America was a homosexual recruiting agency. To wit: "The Girl Scouts allow homosexuals and atheists to join their ranks, and they have become a pro-abortion, feminist training corps. If the Girl Scouts of America can't get back to teaching real character, perhaps it will be time to look for our cookies elsewhere." Hans the Younger wrote for World Net Daily, a far-right fringe website and haven for New World Order and Birther conspiracy theories, though it's hard to find many of his missives today, after he scrubbed them from the Internet. Heralded as a refreshing GOP newcomer, Zeiger won his first election--by 30 votes.
5. Tunnel Vision: Our story so far: City Council President Richard Conlin stepped in just before the deadline and signed a waterfront tunnel construction document after Mayor Mike McGinn failed to sign it. McGinn then said he had just needed more time to read the document, complained that the state and the council were conspiring against him, and demanded Conlin unsign the document. A week later, McGinn still hadn't read the document. But he was still demanding Conlin unsign. Conlin then admitted he hadn't read the document either, but he wasn't about to unsign. McGinn then said he might never read it, and furthermore might never sign it. So there. By then it had become such an absurd City Hall scandal that everyone stopped talking about it.
4. Ferry Bloat: Gov. Chris Gregoire didn't seem all that upset with the findings of a KING-TV investigation into the state ferry system. She didn't see a lot of lawbreaking, she said. In fact, she didn't even see the TV reports, which showed how millions of dollars were spent on workers who self-assigned overtime, got pay for driving to the office, and racked up unnecessary housing and travel costs. "If you have evidence of inefficiencies or ineffectiveness," the governor told reporter Susannah Frame in an interview, "I want to know about it, and I want Secretary [Paula] Hammond to be given the chance to get in there and get the job done." Said Frame to the Guv, "The evidence is in the stories. I'm sorry you didn't have time to watch them." Well, said Gregoire, she was proud of the system. "Can we do better? Yes. Must we do better? Yes." Have they done better? Not yet.
3. Sanders' Race: It's not often a candidate loses an election and then tries to explain it's not because he's white. That's effectively what State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders did, in a December op-ed column he wrote for the Times, whose reporting, he said, was the cause of his defeat. The paper had written in October that he and Justice James Johnson, at a speaking engagement, told the audience "African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes." They seemed to say blacks have themselves, not any racial injustices, to blame for their high rate of incarceration. A week before the election, the Times editorial page withdrew its endorsement of the incumbent. Sanders, the paper claimed, had said "African Americans are overrepresented in prisons because of their skin color." Sanders and most other observers agree that his comments--as interpreted, and out of context--were the likely cause of his close loss to attorney Charlie Wiggins. Sanders belatedly cited his positive record on racial and civil-rights issues and lamented in his op-ed, that "You, The Times, ran the guy out of the Temple of Justice who cares most deeply about the rights of every individual."
2. Recallapalooza: Pierce County politico Dale Washam knows recall: Between 1994 and 2005, he tried and failed five times to recall opponents who defeated him in elections. Now that he's been elected, as the county's assessor-treasurer, he's thought to be behind a recall effort against county prosecutor Mark Lindquist, who failed to push for an investigation, and recall, of Washam's predecessor. Earlier this year, a county probe found Washam abused his authority, wasted public money and violated the county code and state and federal employment laws, resulting in his censure. And now Washam is the target of a recall effort, for gross mismanagement and unlawful retaliation against his staff. What goes around ... is great irony.
1. Matt's Machinations: It was probably understandable that State Rep. Matt Shea introduced a state sovereignty bill to keep the federal government at bay. After all, there's a conspiracy afoot by the White House to impose martial law, he says. The climate-change movement is a government plan to take control of Americans, he also thinks, and he suspects FEMA is using the same tactic Hitler used to recruit church pastors to quiet opponents. Then there's that planned takeover of America by a secret Obama army, says the first-term Spokane Valley Republican and attorney. A reporter tried to ask about his theories, which he spouted on a talk show, but he was busy--flying around in his black helicopter, we hear.