Author: Bryan Myrick

‘Recruit Bill Bryant for Seattle Mayor’ is Launched Online

It has been more than 50 years since Seattle voters elected a Republican mayor, but that’s not stopping some residents from trying to pull former port commissioner and 2016 Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant into this year’s mayoral race.

The effort to recruit Bryant to join what is shaping up to be at least an 11-way contest took shape late Wednesday evening in the form of a website – – asking for visitors to sign a petition.

The pitch to recruit Bryant into the race is an appeal to face reality. From the website:

Seattle is in disarray. Local elected officials are unwilling to address the homeless crisis, unable to keep our cost of living from skyrocketing, and refuse to work with businesses to create good, middle class jobs. Scandals and partisan politics have crippled our city. Enough is enough.

As a former Port Commissioner of Seattle, Bill Bryant has a proven record of protecting our environment, helping the homeless get back on their feet, and creating local jobs here in Seattle.

If you’re tired of the say-one-thing-do-another politicians then sign the petition to recruit Bill Bryant to run for Mayor of Seattle. It’s time we had a mayor who is fighting for all of us – the residents and taxpayers – and not the special interests.

It is the issue of the city’s growing population of permanent homeless, the problems it brings, and the failure of the Democrat-controlled city government to affect any positive change that may make the most compelling case for voters in indigo blue Seattle to consider Bryant.

Some may remember last year when Bryant, during a hotly contested partisan campaign for governor, showed up at a city hearing on homeless policy. According to The Seattle Times, the reaction of the crowd to what Bryant had to say was enough to overcome the inertia of Seattle’s extreme partisanship.

Here’s how angry the overflow crowd was at a Seattle City Hall hearing on homeless camping policies: Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant received an ovation for declaring there should be zero tolerance for camping on public property.

That’s akin to Tom Brady getting a rousing cheer at CenturyLink Field.

The boisterous meeting Friday featured tearful testimony, audience members shouting over City Council members, and a cry for “recall” when Councilmember Mike O’Brien said homeless people have a right to sleep somewhere. The tone was unusual for archliberal Seattle.

Like some others, Bryant, a Seattle resident, said enabling people to live in tents was not compassionate but cruel.

Bryant isn’t alone in his assessment that city policies on homelessness and a host of other plaguing issues are exacerbating problems.

Patti Bishop, a former software entrepreneur and Seattleite since the 1990s, says she will work to get Bryant elected should he step in the race because the need for a change of leadership has reached a tipping point. She cites false compassion in the approaches city hall is taking on critical issues including drug addiction as accelerators of municipal decay.

“We have a beautiful city,” said Bishop. “It’s very sad for many of us to see the direction the city has taken.”

She also believes Bryant would be the only candidate in the race who has identified reasonable solutions. “He’s the only one who’s said, ‘I’m going to address homelessness,’ and had a real step-by-step plan.”

For what it’s worth, if Bryant would consider a run, he played it cool in his statements to the press Thursday most of which followed similar lines to this response he gave to KING-5 political reporter Natalie Brand:

Even to get through the primary, the hill Bryant would need to climb would be steep. In the 2016 gubernatorial race, he grabbed less than 20% of Seattle’s vote. For those who want to retain hope, creative electoral math may yield scenarios to maintain enthusiasm.

If the field of Democrats, socialists and other left-wing competitors for the office continues to expand (there are currently 10 declared candidates), and Bryant occupied the moderate ground on his own, that piece of the pie begins to look slightly more viable in a top two primary. Some will see the prospect of a chaotic scrum as a way of leveling the odds, but the likelihood of narrow margins between candidates increases with every name on the ballot.

Regardless of whether Bryant jumps in and finds enough votes to get through a crowded primary, or jumps in at all, there will still be a void to fill in Seattle politics.

This city that aspires to promote diversity above all else is not just homogeneous in terms of political thought, but the need to conform to canon is policed. When the dominant ideology bears rotten fruit, the policing becomes more severe.

But forced cognitive dissonance is a condition that people do not enjoy living with. They find ways to realign their beliefs with reality. The tool for that realignment may not be Bill Bryant, but it will be someone or something someday.

The petition to recruit Bill Bryant for Seattle mayor can be found at

Here’s What Happens When a Woman Runs for State Senate… as a Republican blogger Joel Connelly must not have been listening when former First Lady Michelle Obama called for political fighters to “go high.”

The veteran columnist’s first strike following the announcement that a new Republican has entered the pivotal race for state Senate in the 45th legislative district ran under the following headline:

“One of D.C.’s ’50 Most Beautiful’ shooting for Wash. senate”

Hat tip to The Stranger’s Heidi Groover for catching the original headline and posting it to Twitter with a tip from one journo to another:

The offense seems obvious. Instead of inserting any of Englund’s legitimate accomplishments into the headline, – and Connelly by association – chose to place a metaphoric tiara onto her head. Only the author of the headline knows for sure if the intent was to inaugurate a gross misconception that Englund is just a pretty face. *

We all know, however, what would happen if a female Democratic candidate received this treatment. A judgment of malice would come swiftly and the Republican candidate in the race would be asked to defend or repudiate obvious misogyny emanating from ‘their side.’

Nevertheless, within a few hours, the headline morphed into something less offensive, though still somewhat inaccurate and obvious in its intent. The scrubbing of the headline heads off a conversation in which uncomfortable questions about double standards practiced by the left would be asked. Have no fear, though. Based on water cooler chatter about how Englund’s candidacy and ethnicity have already been discussed in at least one liberal klatsch, there will be other opportunities.


* Ed. On the matter of whether Connelly authored the original headline, normally journalists are able to say honestly that they don’t write their own headlines. There’s no reason, however, to suspect this is the case with Connelly’s pieces, which is why we chose to preserve ambiguity.

To say that operates a streamlined editorial process would be a gross overstatement. Stories still run under the banner of a former print newspaper enterprise for which longtime locals have a fond memory, but now the masthead flies like a flag over a derelict ghost ship.

So, based on operational realities of a gutted newsroom (we believe this is sad, regardless of whether we agree with the general slant of Connelly’s writing), and other tell-tale clues that indicate a second set of eyes doesn’t often grace his work, we’re going suspect that Connelly was doing what has become commonplace in most threadbare news organizations – self-editing and self-publishing. There’s nothing wrong with that – we do that here at NW Daily Marker, too, out of necessity since we have literally NO operating budget outside of what the publisher (a.k.a, Me) spends from his own pocket.

Still, the authorship of the headline is relevant in assigning responsibility for what was an obvious and cheap attempt to diminish a woman’s more substantive accomplishments and instead push forward a narrative that her primary achievement is having a pretty face.

Jinyoung Lee Englund Announces in Key Washington State Senate Race

The wait is over. A Republican has stepped into what is likely to be this year’s spotlight race in Washington state.

Jinyoung Lee Englund announced Tuesday that she will run in the special election to fill the state Senate seat left vacant by the untimely death of Sen. Andy Hill.

Jinyoung Lee Englund, candidate for Washington state Senate. [Official campaign photo.]

Englund enters the race almost two months after Democrat and Deputy King County Prosecutor Manka Dhingra tossed her hat into the ring.

Time is money and Dhingra’s head start can be measured in dollars. As of the end of March, Dhingra had raised nearly $200,000, according to reports made to the State Public Disclosure Commission. Don’t expect the imbalance to be anything but temporary, however. Seasoned operatives expect the race to draw in record or near-record dollars from both sides.

The stakes are high. A Democratic win returns to them full control of the Legislature and brings Gov. Jay Inslee’s pen back into the picture as a tool to enact their agenda. A victory by Republicans retains the only solid foothold to stand on when moving forward fresh approaches and putting the brakes on bad ideas.

A Democratic proposal to enact a tax on income earned from capital gains is just one agenda piece that could swing with the 45th. Transportation angst is another and there are many more. So, although voters in the 45th will ultimately determine control of the Legislature, voter anxiety over those questions that will feature in the race is shared by voters statewide.

The full release that accompanied Englund’s announcement can be found on her campaign website.

The Lyrics Have Changed, But the Song Remains the Same: Dems’ New Spin on Income Tax Should be Cast Aside

A broken clock will be correct twice a day, but a broken record will be flawed every time you play it.

House Democrats in Olympia have dropped the needle once more on a tired old loser of a song, a ballad of yearning for a tax on income. They’re banking that this time around they’ll have a hit, but it seems the vinyl is more warped than ever.

One obstacle that proponents of an income tax face is the prohibition in Washington state law against taxes on income. Another is white-hot voter antipathy for the whole idea.

Democrats have orchestrated a cynical workaround that bends language and cudgels logic into submission. House Bill 2186 is the first pressing of that mix, in which – through the magic of word substitution – a tax on capital gains income becomes an excise tax.

Sorry, Democrats. The lyrics may have changed, but the song remains the same. In taxes, just as in biology, there are objective truths that no amount of creative renaming can avoid. I may desire to fly, but I can’t expect to get airborne just by calling my arms wings. Neither can an income tax be called an excise tax just because politicians want a soaring spending plan fueled from a newly tapped well of revenue.

Nevertheless, as the current legislative session winds down, the Democrats are moving forward with a disciplined effort to blur definitions and disorient voters.

On Tuesday, Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) spoke with radio talk show host and veteran political analyst John Carlson on KVI 570 AM. (The entire podcast is also embedded at the bottom of this post. It’s well worth listening to the whole interview.)

Jinkins, now serving a fourth term representing the 27th legislative district, tried to walk Carlson and his listeners through her reasoning about why capital gains aren’t income. Not surprising, her logic was discordant and nonfunctioning.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins: Something qualifies to be an excise tax when you sell something voluntarily and you get revenue from the sale of that. So, the primary example is actually stocks and bonds.

You might buy a stock for $100 and sell it for $1,000. The capital gain is the $900 that you make as income just for selling something. …

It’s a transactional… An excise tax is a transactional tax.

So far, Jinkins isn’t wrong about what a capital gain or an excise tax are, but excise taxes are assessed on gross revenue, not net. It’s a meaningful distinction. Nonetheless, Jinkins strains to lay down a bridge between these disjointed ideas and justify how a tax on capital gains income can be defined as an excise.

Carlson: However, when you sell property or when you sell equity – stocks, bond, etc. – precious metals, whatever – the money that you gain from that that is taxed, that’s income. So, why isn’t this an income tax? You’re taxing me on what I’ve gained in income from selling that investment.

Jinkins: Well that’s, I mean, really this is kind of technical-legal, a technical/legal issue…

Carlson: (interjecting) It shouldn’t be.

Jinkins: If folks are going to argue that the capital gains tax is an income tax, then they’re going to argue that all sorts of things like the real estate excise tax, which the courts have long held is an excise tax and not an income tax under the Washington State…

If you’re still not feeling Jinkins’ groove here, you’re not alone. In fact, using the example of a real estate transaction makes it even clearer that an excise tax is assessed on a transaction, but not on any gain the seller receives. Real estate excise tax is calculated, generally, on the selling price, not the seller’s net proceeds. There’s a reason for that. If it were assessed on net proceeds, it would be a capital gains tax and capital gains are, legally and in common understanding, income.

A key feature of excise taxes is that they apply to the gross amount of a transaction. With capital gains, there can be no tax without gain, but with an excise tax a seller of a good or service would pay the tax even if they lose money. This is simply not true of an income tax.

This creature the Democrats are conjuring – the capital gains excise tax – is an impossibility. Once you realize a gain on the sale of property, you have more than you started with and everyone understands that intuitively as income. Yes, there was technically a transaction that occurred, but a capital gains tax isn’t triggered until a gain is received as income.

Carlson digs into that point further and prompts a backlash from the representative.

Jinkins: The issue of whether or not something is an income tax or an excise tax is really based on long-standing Washington state court decision that define the difference between what’s an income tax and an excise tax. And so this is an excise tax which is based again on the sale of something and the money that you earn on the sale of something and the money that you earn as the result of a sale of something…

Carlson: Or is an excise tax a consumption tax?

Jinkins: That’s what you want to call it because you think that people who hate an income tax will therefore hate a capital gains tax.

Jinkins swipe is ironic. It is obvious that the entire purpose for the Democrats’s word-swapping strategy is to ditch politically radioactive labels while also create confusion with voters. (The idea of an income tax is almost universally understood. Excise, not so much, as is further evidence by Jinkins’ struggle.) The notion of a capital gains excise tax is a chimera born of liberal desperation, but that won’t stop Democrats from attempting to bend reality to suit their needs.

Opponents of an income tax on capital gains are would be wise to aggressively smother this effort now, not only in Olympia, but among the voters at large who are not paying close attention. Once this hungry camel gets its nose under the tent, the odds of getting a favorable interpretation from the state Supreme Court are miniscule and it becomes a matter of tweaking the percentages, caps and exemptions to squeeze more tax out of more Washingtonians.

Many Washingtonians might think to themselves, “This isn’t something I have to deal with anyway.” That could be initially true, but time has a way of turning the tables when it comes to creeping taxation. Even in the initial implementation of such a plan, Washington residents should be consider that in order for state government to know that you did or did not receive any capital gains subject to the tax, a return filing would likely be necessary. Welcome to your newly christened state income tax mechanism.

Voters may yet have a chance to reject (again) an income tax in this newly repackaged form. There’s a good chance that Democrats will queue it up onto the playlist for the spotlight dance later this year in the 45th legislative district special election to decide who will permanently replace the late Sen. Andy Hill.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

The Seattle Way: Tax Soda, Subsidize Heroin All in the Cause of Public Health

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to slap a new tax on sugary drinks to promote good public health has irked at least one of the city’s restaurant owners. It should be angering even more Seattle business owners and residents, though not for the obvious reasons.

The mayor’s crusade exposes real inconsistencies and skewed priorities in the city’s approach to critical public health issues. Spoiler alert: Seattle is moving toward subsidizing and enable the use of destructive, addictive, and life-threatening illegal drugs such as heroin with so-called safe injection sites. I’ll get to that a little further down the page, but first…

The city’s lack of response to one White Center restaurant owner’s concerns about Murray’s proposed tax on soda pop prompted a protest of sorts.

Ryan Hopkins, owner of Burger Boss Drive-In, is using his roadside sign to let people know how the proposed tax would affect his customers, and how he feels about it. According to KING-TV:

It’s been pretty quiet around Seattle since Mayor Ed Murray proposed a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, but one small business owner is firing back.

Ryan Hopkins owns Burger Boss Drive-in and said he recently learned that the mayor’s idea could force him to raise prices on his large soda to more than $5.

He called City Hall, and when he didn’t get a response, he posted an eye-catching message outside his restaurant to get some attention.


Hopkins says he’s contacted the mayor in hopes of having a conversation but has yet to receive a response.

The initial outline for Murray’s soda tax proposed adding 2 cents per ounce for sugary beverages, though the details will not be disclosed until legislation is presented to the City Council. Why does Murray believe the new social engineering tax is necessary? Why, public health, of course. From The Seattle Times:

Murray has given two reasons for the tax on sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and more: improve health by reducing consumption of sugary drinks, and fund education programs aimed at improving the graduation rate of minority youth.

The mayor even compared sugary drinks to tobacco, saying “sugar is as bad as cigarettes in how we consume it,” on The Seattle Times’ politics podcast.

Let’s assume that Murray is right about the dire risk from drinking soda pop. Wouldn’t a safe soda consumption center be more consistent with the current dogma that pervades Seattle’s public health infrastructure? Those seeking the fizzy giddy rush of a cola would enter a community facility, guzzle their syrupy beverages in a supervised and non-judgmental environment, and then be sent on their merry way.

Of course, this is an absurd idea and not only because if a safe soda site was as “effective” in affecting health outcomes as Vancouver, B.C.’s safe injection site, Seattle would need to brace for a diabetes explosion.

No, the irony here is obvious: If drinking soda is bad enough that the city has to impose negative incentives to curb its use, is heroin – an illegal substance to begin with – less bad? Obviously, it is not less bad; it is much, much worse.

Nevertheless, Seattle’s leaders, elected by Seattle’s citizens, may this year choose to subsidize one activity that 100% of health experts agree poses lethal risk while punishing another behavior that is relatively benign by comparison. I feel safe in assuming that the risk of death by overdose after drinking a 64-ounce cola is as close to zero as actuaries can ever be comfortable stating.

Maybe this ideologically pure but logically backward way of thinking is one reason why Snohomish and Pierce Counties are leading the nation in net migration while Seattle-dominated King County lags.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

What’s in a Promise Anyway?

There’s more to replacement than one word can define

Before this week, you had to watch a drag race to witness anything accelerate as fast, careen as recklessly, and burst into flame as catastrophically as did the first Republican effort to replace the Affordable Care Act during Pres. Trump’s term in office.

Clearly, Republican leadership was not ready. Clearly, they felt pressure to fulfill the one promise that had been pounded in ad infinitum to voters in hundreds of congressional districts over four consecutive election cycles.

Promises are funny things, though. The promisor – in this case, the politicians – and the promisee – voters – should have a common understanding of the terms. The absence of mutual understanding often leads to promisees reacting to the promisor’s actions as a breach.

“Behold, promisees! We are repealing! And replacing!” proclaims the promisor, beaming with pride.

“Umm, not so much repealing by our account,” say the promisees. “And that’s not even close to how we envisioned the replacing. I think we’d call that revising, but replacing… not so much.”

“Oh,” says the promisor. “Oops.”

I don’t mean to suggest that agreeing on a complex idea such as health care reform is easy. It’s an unavoidable limitation that in a representative democracy we’re not going to get the fine print on the social contract we’re asked to extend, modify and renew at each election.

Campaign slogans are useful tools for harvesting votes, but worthless when it comes to understanding what specific policies those votes may have supported. Governing, it seems, requires more communication to get it right. It’s critical for elected representatives to check back in with the public prior to diving into the creation of a broad, sweeping policy like the AHCA.

The late Mario Cuomo’s dictum (“You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”) comes to mind. Republicans have campaigned successfully in poetry since 2009. Last year’s devolution into a kind of right-wing beat poetry – MAGA rally chants and random thoughts of no more than 140 characters – resulted in even greater success. Transitioning to a mode of communication that embraced their new role as the governing party was never going to be easy. Decisions by many Republicans not to hold town halls during their mid-winter recess, though understandable, foreclosed opportunities to broaden understanding with constituents about the ACHA and other issues that lay ahead. The chaos generated by liberal action groups shut down the best chance for Republican members and their constituents to sync up on what the repeal and replace promise really did mean.

Not having the public forums was a rational decision where and when those choices were made, but it’s hard not to recognize that it was a choice that may have kept Republicans out of touch.

The same choice will present itself again and Republicans will need to find a way to push through. The use of technology, more meetings with smaller groups of constituents, or partnering with local media to host (and manage) town halls could be crucial ways of keeping communication active and open.

So, with all of that non-communication happening against the helpful backdrop of a daily White House circus show, it was unsurprising that the Quinnipiac poll released Thursday read like a stern note from estranged constituents: “We’re getting the feeling that we’re not on the same page anymore. Is there something you’d like to tell us?”

The poll found Republicans were predictably the most supportive of the now-decommissioned AHCA, though registering less than majority (41%) approval for the proposal. That’s an anemic lack of support from your own base on a keystone issue. Even more concerning, independent voters registered 14% approve/58% disapprove. That’s not anemic; that’s a femoral artery gashed and bleeding out if you’re a Republican in a purplish district. These are the shifting electoral shoals on which an otherwise great campaign can find itself wrecked in suburban districts across the country.

Now, there remains a promise on the table. A non-vote on an unpopular bill does not nullify that fact. Even if Trump does elect to blame Democrats and move on, that isn’t the deal the rest of the Republicans made with their voters.

Nothing should stop Republicans from discussing proposals and slowly building support through prosaic dialogue — not poetic soundbites – with constituents. Persuasion takes time, but I have a feeling that voters are ready to spend the time to get this right.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

Missing The Big Wave: Washington State Republicans Are Left Hanging Zero

If last Tuesday’s election was a key moment in American history, a surge of political evolution, Washington State – frequently credited as a citadel of innovation – now has the distinction of being a throwback. Of the groups responsible for empowering Washington voters to continue clinging to their buggy whips, the Washington State Republican Party and chairman Luke Esser must accept a large share of the blame for missing a 100-year opportunity.

On the federal level, with only a handful of races yet to be called, Republican gains stand at six seats in the Senate and 60 in the House, with an additional three races leaning red. In contrast, Washington’s congressional delegation of 11 (two senators and nine representatives) is now poised to grow by… one.

The GOP’s weak performance in Washington looks even less impressive when the results of state legislative races are considered. Although voters across the state enthusiastically rejected a state income tax, and reinstated the two-thirds majority requirement for tax increases (a voter-approved condition that was pushed aside by Democrats in Olympia), Republicans could only achieve small gains in either legislative body. Although ballots are still being counted, the Democrats will likely continue to have an advantage of three seats in the State Senate and a 16 seats in the House.

It is no surprise that since the ballot counting began to reveal disappointing results as early as the day after election night, damage control seems to have been the order of the day for Washington’s Republican establishment. Although polling before the election clearly predicted close finishes in key races – Dino Rossi’s campaign to remove Sen. Patty Murray and John Koster’s campaign to unseat Rep. Rick Larsen in the Second Congressional District – the call to GOP volunteers to help with ballot rehabilitation was laced with desperation, causing some to wonder if the urgency stemmed from a failure to have the rehab effort operating from sunrise on November 3rd.

Exacerbating the reality that dreams of a Red Washington were of the pie-in-the-sky variety, with Democratic margins in all contested races continuing to widen through Friday, the response from the Republican leadership was… silence.

On Friday morning, Esser broke the calm and spoke with radio talk show host Bryan Suits on KVI 570 AM. His explanation to Suits for why Washington had not followed the national trends for Republican gains: Washington State’s economy was just not quite as bad as the rest of the country. According to Esser, a serious but comparatively mild recession in the Northwest was to blame for dashed Republican hopes. Esser’s rationalization was as hopeless, demoralizing and misplaced as if Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had blamed the team’s monumental loss this past Sunday on better-than-average weather.

The same day, Esser repeated the analysis to David Boze on KTTH 770 AM, confirming amazingly low expectations for the Republican message and implying that GOP wins in Washington can only come against Democrats who have been handicapped by desperately poor economic conditions.

In Washington, for a variety of reasons, the Republican Party seems to have abandoned its role in this regard to friendly media in the form of talk radio and right-wing blogs, but it must make greater efforts to reach out to the public through these channels.

Despite Esser’s belief in the values of the free market, individualism, and smaller government, a malaise of sorts has persisted within the party during his tenure, one that lives by a self-sustaining doctrine of non-confrontation. Having predicted failure – as Esser implies by defining such narrow conditions for GOP victories – it is not only permissible but rational to avoid risks, play defense, and celebrate holding ground as if one were gaining it.

The new message of weakness brought out by Esser in the wake of the election brings into clearer perspective why the WSRP committed attention and resources to races that polling showed would probably not be nail biters – Rep. Dave Reichert’s Eight District re-election bid and Jaime Herrera’s run for Rep. Brian Baird’s vacated seat in the Third – while neglecting contest that needed TLC in the First, Second and Ninth.

Republican strategists had known since the August primary that John Koster was mounting a serious challenge to knock an incumbent Democrat off his perch. Instead, energy flowed into the efforts to protect Rep. Dave Reichert in the Eighth and boost Jaime Herrera in her Third District run, despite the polling in both races that showed the Republicans as likely first-place finishers. In the First District challenge to überliberal Rep. Jay Inslee, James Watkins worked hard to overcome a virtual media blackout and starvation for resources and won more of the vote than Larry Ishmael did in the previous two elections.

This should not be read as a snub of Reichert or Herrera. As Washington’s second congresswoman (both female House representatives are Republicans), Herrera will make a stellar addition to the state delegation, and Reichert’s return to Congress cements a foothold for Republicans in the heart of blue territory. Nevertheless, losing races in which more should have been done is a difficult pill to swallow.

Even more important in elections than dollars and communications support, however, is the ability of the political parties to inspire and motivate its base and persuade converters into the fold. The process of persuasion transcends pragmatic decisions about candidate viability and media buys, it is the subtle conversation about ideology. It leverages intersections of events and political philosophy to describe the advantage of a particular point of view, and it has the power to change minds.

Esser is an admirable speaker who capably communicates Republican ideals, but what the lackluster results in this last election may force party insiders to admit is that he may lack the critical element for achieving substantial gains in 2012 and beyond. If Esser lacks the vision to conceive of Washington as a red state, that failure could affect more than the political fortunes of Republican office-seekers.

Washington cannot ignore the consequences of years of runaway spending. Furthermore, an increasingly business-averse economic and regulatory climate, creeping efforts to institute oppressive environmental policies, and an incestuous and costly relationship between public employee unions and their government paymasters are on-the-horizon issues that only Republicans can be expected to oppose. On these issues, there must be a leader to prime the conversation, and Washington is fortunate to have a deep bench of passionate and experienced political operatives who might be able to fill that role. Luke Esser should give serious consideration to stepping aside and making room for a fresh voice.

[Cross-posted at Red State by author.]

Did Patty Murray’s Campaign Ask A State Worker To Use Gov’t Resources For Political Organizing?

WorkSource employee felt that veterans blew her political email “way out of proportion”

Eighteen pages of emails obtained from the Washington Employment Security Department contain communication suggesting that Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign met with a state worker with the purpose of asking for campaign work to be done using state resources.

On August 12th of this year, WorkSource employee Sally Garcia sent an email using her official state account and computer to a list of military veteran clients of Employment Security, with the purpose of motivating support for Murray’s campaign in the Vancouver, Wash. area. Almost immediately, responses trickled in from annoyed and infuriated vets and Garcia opened a line of communication with management.

In one email sent by Garcia to WorkSource business services manager Patrick Williams on the same day her political email was sent, Garcia implied that the idea for sending a state-sponsored email to solicit veterans to get out and vote for Patty Murray came via an August 11th meeting with the Murray campaign. Garcia also suggests that she should have had the foresight to know that veterans would “blow it way out of proportion.”

Kerala Hise — the individual named as a point of contact on Murray’s campaign in Garcia’s original email to veterans — is identified as a field organizer for People for Patty Murray in a separate email sent from Hise’s email address to Garcia’s official Employment Security account. To date, all requests for comment sent to Murray spokeswoman Julie Edwards have failed to receive any reply.

On August 12th, as the seriousness of Garcia’s actions became evident, she included her union representative in the chain of communication, forwarding nearly every email sent and received during what must have been a frazzling summer afternoon.

Meanwhile, Williams went up the ladder to Employment Security southwest Washington area director Robert Brown. Brown subsequently directed Garcia by email to “cease communication on this or other matters using your veterans email list until further notice.” Other emails imply that an order to recall the original email was given, and a meeting was called for the morning of August 13th at which Garcia, Williams, Brown and the union representative were to be present.

Although the details of the August 13th meeting and any subsequent disciplinary actions are a confidential personnel matter, Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison confirmed earlier this month by email that the department “takes this matter very, very seriously, and the disciplinary process is under way and moving rapidly.”

In that same email, dated Sept. 13th, Hutchison also stated for the first time that the entire matter had been referred to the State Executive Ethics Board for review. The news of the ethics complaint filing came nearly a month after Employment Security officials had met with Garcia, a local manager and a union representative to discuss what had transpired. Hutchison defends the interval as a period during which the agency was conducting its own inquiry.

“In the early going, the WorkSource managers and our H.R. Office were focused on investigating the potential violations of our agency policies and activating our internal disciplinary process,” Hutchison told me by email this afternoon. “Once the bulk of our investigation was completed, we then had the necessary information to craft an ethics complaint that contained the details needed by the Ethics Commission.”

Although the Board officially neither denies nor confirms the existence of a complaint, a source close to the Board has confirmed receipt of the complaint. If the Board takes up the matter for investigation, the results of their work may not be available for months, possibly until after the November 2 election.

Other messages within the eighteen pages of emails sent and received by Garcia on her state computer on August 12 make it clear that before she and her managers moved to mitigate the damage, several veterans voiced their disapproval regarding the political communiqué. Three of the four replies from veterans contained in the department’s public document release register condemnation ranging from light finger-wagging to outrage.

“I do believe there is a conflict of interest for you to endorse a particular candidate,” one veteran politely wrote in reply. “You may want to rethink your position before you send out emails such as this one in the future.”

Although there is no evidence suggesting that the Murray campaign requested the email be sent, other infuriated recipients saw it as an open door to voice indignation for the incumbent Senator.

“I queried [Murray] long ago about the problems with the rewording of the Vietnam-era GI Bill,” another vet explained, asserting that a change in verbiage narrowed the window of time in which veteran’s could use certain benefits. “I received a nice letter from her… which amounted to not wanting to do anything about this matter… I had to drop out of school because my benefits ran out when the wording was rewritten and she didn’t care.”

I learned that one particularly acute reply — devoid of any nuance that might have distracted from its message — came from candidate for state representative in the 49th district Bill Cismar who wrote, “My oath to defend the constitution and this country has not expired and is not so cheaply held that this charlatan should offer me a trifle so that I sit quietly while she destroys my beloved nation.”

An early takeaway for Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi might be in recognizing that 75 percent disapproval – even from a focus group of four – is a poor indicator that Murray’s battle to win the hearts of minds of servicemen and women is a winning one.

State Worker’s Email Asking Vets To Support Patty Murray Prompts Ethics Investigation

An email sent by a Washington State employee to veterans that urged support for Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) re-election effort are now the focus of an official complaint before the Washington State Executive Ethics Board, the five-person nonpartisan commission charged with investigating accusations of unethical behavior by state employees and officials.

According to a source close to the Ethics Board, a complaint was referred by the Washington Employment Security Department concerning WorkSource employees – Employment Security’s partner agency – using state resources to campaign for Patty Murray. Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison confirmed by email that her agency was the source of the referral, although she could not provide any further details about the complaint.

Until the complaint is made public, it will not be known if it focuses only on the actions of the one employee currently known to have been involved in sending out the emails, or if other parties will also subjects of the investigation.

Although chalking the entire matter up to a single state worker acting alone may be tempting, emails already released by Employment Security offer a reason to believe that her actions were not independent.

Released documents show that the WorkSource employee forwarded one interested veteran’s response to a third party, writing to that person, “This is the first one I received.” It would not be hasty to assume that the purpose of the communication was to provide a progress report, however informal. As more information about the identity of the third party becomes available, questions about the possible sharing of private information outside of state agencies, or the more insidious possibility that WorkSource employees were coordinating their actions with outside parties, may be resolved.

The Ethics Board is scheduled to meet Friday morning in Olympia. It is unclear whether this matter will be on the agenda.

Doc Release Confirms Patty Murray Campaign Materials Sent To Vets By State Employee

The Washington Employment Security Department has released the email sent by a WorkSource employee who used government resources to organize support for Sen. Patty Murray’s campaign. In the email, WorkSource employee Sally Garcia asks veterans to contact Kerala Hise, either by telephone or at a address, to get involved in a ‘”walk and knock” to remind people to vote” for Murray’s re-election.

Garcia’s email also suggested that recipients “[t]ake a look at the attachments I”—Garcia—“have included.” Employment Security unequivocally stated that no attachments were sent with the message but that Garcia did send a file to recipients who responded with interest. The file contains three People for Patty Murray flyers (click to download the file), an advertisement for a get out the vote event, a bulleted list of Murray’s awards from veterans organizations, and a promotion for Murray’s campaign kickoff rally in Vancouver.

Last week, Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison confirmed that the email represented a breach of agency policies and suggested it might potential violations of state and federal law. Hutchison indicated at that time that disciplinary steps would be taken.

Attempts to call the phone number listed in the email for Hise were not answered and there was no opportunity to leave voicemail. The Murray campaign has not responded to repeated requests for comment about Hise’s role with the campaign and her involvement with the sending of the email.

A request for records of communications between Garcia and the Murray campaign, and between the Murray campaign and Employment Security, is still being researched.

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