In mid-April the Pierce County Ethics Commission came down (as hard as it could) on much-maligned Pierce County Assessor Treasurer Dale Washam, concluding that in 2010 Washam violated county ethics rules by using public resources to conspire against Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, attempting to aid the campaign of Lindquist's challenger in the 2010 election, Bertha Fitzer. The Commission fined Washam $500 for the misdeed, and issued a stern ruling.
As has been noted, the key event that led to the Ethics Commission's ruling against Washam went down Sept. 14, 2010, when Washam, his chief deputy, Albert Ugas, his assistant, Gretchen Borck and Bertha Fitzer met to discuss Fitzer's campaign for Pierce County Prosecutor. After weighing the evidence and interviewing the involved parties, the Ethic Commission ruled that Washam had broken county rules by using county resources for campaign purposes. The investigation was launched after the Ethics Commission received a complaint on May 18, 2011.
The "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" (posted below) goes into more detail about the meeting - which took place in Conference Room 3 of the Pierce County Annex Building, started at 10 a.m. and lasted about 90 minutes. According to the Commission's report, the meeting was arranged by Washam through Borck - who initially contacted Fitzer earlier in the month, but was told the candidate wasn't comfortable meeting with Washam until after she had officially resigned from the Pierce County Prosecutor's office. Fitzer was employed, most recently as a deputy prosecuting attorney, by the Pierce County Prosecutor's office from January, 2001 through September 2010, but resigned on Sept. 10 to campaign against Lindquist.
Once Fitzer had officially resigned, she agreed to meet with Washam, Ugas and Borck at the Pierce County Annex Building. According to the official Ethics Commission ruling, the first 15 minutes of the Sept. 14 meeting consisted of Washam grilling Fitzer about the seriousness of her campaign. Washam reportedly asked Fitzer if her campaign was "for real" and why her campaign signs were not out already.
Later, Washam reportedly told Fitzer he could "deliver votes," "get her elected," and had "dynamite" information that she could use against Lindquist.
Not surprising to anyone who's followed Washam, the Ethics Committee report indicates that approximately one hour of the 90-minute meeting consisted of him discussing his desire for a criminal investigation into the actions of the previous Pierce County Assessor Treasurer, Ken Madsen. This has been a familiar tune of Washam's for years and years, though no county or state officials - including Lindquist - has taken him up on it ... a source of great consternation for the sitting Assessor. Washam has been bitching and griping for what seems like forever about Madsen's use of computer models to revalue properties in Pierce County instead of the physical inspections required by state law. Washam says it represents a criminal falsification of public record. But no one takes him seriously. Perhaps Washam hoped that if he could help Fitzer beat Lindquist he would finally have a friend in the Pierce County building.
The Ethics Commission concluded that the final portion of Washam's meeting with Fitzer consisted of Washam and Ugas discussing with Fitzer ways they could help her campaign. According to the Commission's findings, "At one point, Mr. Ugas left and returned a few minutes later carrying a 8 ½'' x 11'' color 'graphic' that depicted a picture of Mark Lindquist with a red circle around his head and a slash through it and the words 'Defeat Lindquist.'"
(I put a call in to the Ghostbusters to check on the possibility of copyright infringement had the sign actually been put to use. Should they get back to me I'll update this post accordingly.)
During the proceedings of the Ethics Commission hearing, both Ugas and Washam testified. The report notes that the Commission "heard testimony from Dale Washam and Alberto Ugas regarding their interpretations of the meeting's conversations and found their interpretations not credible, except regarding the graphic of Mark Lindquist. Both Mr. Washam and Mr. Ugas admitted that Mr. Ugas had shown the graphic of Prosecutor Lindquist to Ms. Fitzer at the meeting and both admitted that Mr. Washam did not speak to Mr. Ugas after the meeting concluded about showing the graphic of Mr. Lindquist to Ms. Fitzer. The Commission found this testimony to be credible and substantiated by other evidence."
Why would Washam and Ugas give anything other than a credible account of the sign?
It was totally "dynamite."
Find the full signed report issued by the Pierce County Ethics Commission on the following page.
The full signed report issued by the Pierce County Ethics Commission