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Gifts for the governor

What do you give the leader of a state?

  • A glass business-card holder from the Snohomish County Arts Council sits outside the governor's office.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A glass business-card holder from the Snohomish County Arts Council sits outside the governor's office.

  • Books are a common gift; "Duck for President" is one of many the governor has received.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Books are a common gift; "Duck for President" is one of many the governor has received.

  • At right is a shovel given to the governor to commemorate a groundbreaking in Moses Lake..

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    At right is a shovel given to the governor to commemorate a groundbreaking in Moses Lake..

  • One of the first state of Washington quarters sits on Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    One of the first state of Washington quarters sits on Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk.

  • The governor receives commemorative coins from the military and law enforcement agencies; her husband, Mike Gregoire, also collects them.

    The governor receives commemorative coins from the military and law enforcement agencies; her husband, Mike Gregoire, also collects them.

  • This vase was presented to the governor as a personal gift from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    This vase was presented to the governor as a personal gift from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

  • A pair of skis inscribed with the governor's name hangs in her office.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A pair of skis inscribed with the governor's name hangs in her office.

  • Gifts bearing the seal of the state are among the things that Gov. Chris Gregoire has given to dignitaries.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Gifts bearing the seal of the state are among the things that Gov. Chris Gregoire has given to dignitaries.

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By Jerry Cornfield
Herald Writer
Published:
  • A glass business-card holder from the Snohomish County Arts Council sits outside the governor's office.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A glass business-card holder from the Snohomish County Arts Council sits outside the governor's office.

  • Books are a common gift; "Duck for President" is one of many the governor has received.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Books are a common gift; "Duck for President" is one of many the governor has received.

  • At right is a shovel given to the governor to commemorate a groundbreaking in Moses Lake..

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    At right is a shovel given to the governor to commemorate a groundbreaking in Moses Lake..

  • One of the first state of Washington quarters sits on Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    One of the first state of Washington quarters sits on Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk.

  • The governor receives commemorative coins from the military and law enforcement agencies; her husband, Mike Gregoire, also collects them.

    The governor receives commemorative coins from the military and law enforcement agencies; her husband, Mike Gregoire, also collects them.

  • This vase was presented to the governor as a personal gift from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    This vase was presented to the governor as a personal gift from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

  • A pair of skis inscribed with the governor's name hangs in her office.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A pair of skis inscribed with the governor's name hangs in her office.

  • Gifts bearing the seal of the state are among the things that Gov. Chris Gregoire has given to dignitaries.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Gifts bearing the seal of the state are among the things that Gov. Chris Gregoire has given to dignitaries.

OLYMPIA -- They started arriving the day Christine Gregoire took the oath as governor.
And they haven't stopped coming.
Books, artwork and holiday ornaments.
Caps, T-shirts and quilts.
A state flag autographed by soldiers in Iraq, a pair of handcrafted skis and a shovel made of carbon fiber.
Gifts, all of them, sent to Gregoire by personal friends and political foes as well as famed figures and total strangers.
She's received something from someone every month between her inauguration in January 2005 and last Christmas, according to logs provided by the Office of the Governor.
But only one -- the very first one -- continues to give her fits and her husband 106 minutes of laughter.
It's a DVD of "Mars Attacks!," the 1996 comic spoof about U.S. leaders responding to an invasion by Martians.
It came from Scott and Paula Nelson of Olympia, who wanted to help prepare their longtime friend for a difficult new job where sometimes unexplainable events occur that have to be laughed at.
"I was trying to get her to see that this is important work that needs to be taken seriously but occasionally there is a bit of absurdity in what goes on," said Scott Nelson, who is also a lobbyist. "After a long campaign, I was appalled that my old friend Chris Gregoire couldn't find anything to laugh at in 'Mars Attacks!' "
No doubt the Nelsons wanted to tweak their friend, too, with the video. They knew she nearly walked out of the film in 1996 and almost a decade later she hadn't figured out why it remains one of her husband Mike's favorite movies.
"She called and gave me a hard time," Nelson recalled. "She said she said just got the damn (movie) out of the house and now she had one they'd have to keep and couldn't throw away."

Washington's governors historically receive gifts from every county, many states and several corners of the globe. They come in the mail, get brought to bill-signing ceremonies and are delivered by hand at organized events.
Tracking them in Gregoire's administration falls to a single staffer, which by comparison is a far cry from the federal government, which has a whole department to figure out who is giving what to President Barack Obama.
Here, the governor's staff person keeps a log describing gifts, identifying donors and detailing when and how they arrived.
Most but not all items the governor receives are noted in the log, and there's no indication how much they are worth.
State law requires that only items valued in excess of $50 be recorded on financial reports filed annually with the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Governors do receive things they don't report. For example, state rules allow them to accept a coffee mug or T-shirt -- the type of item given away free at many activities -- without having to log them in.
And Gregoire, like most governors, does get personal gifts from people she meets, and they don't all need to be written into the public log, according to her staff.
State law does not require reporting "unsolicited gifts from dignitaries from another state or a foreign country that are intended to be personal in nature."
For example, on a table in Gregoire's office is a hand-sculpted Tree of Life featuring depictions of Adam and Eve presented to her by Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox.
And, in a downstairs room of the Governor's Mansion, are a painting from the government of Vietnam and a vase from China's President Hu Jintao -- both of which the Gregoires will take with them when they move out.

Judy Tuohy, executive director of the Arts Council of Snohomish County, is a multiple-gift-giver.
In February 2005, when she and others traveled to Olympia to talk with legislators about the importance of public art programs, she stopped at the governor's office and left Gregoire a fused glass cardholder made by Janet Foley of Snohomish.
"It's just a small little token to remind her to be thinking about the arts," Tuohy said.
She gave her another one in 2006, though no more since.
"There are only so many cardholders the governor can have," she said.
Through the years, Gregoire has received a number of handmade items.
In 2005, for example, artist Kelly Moses of the Tulalip Tribes presented Gregoire with a handmade cedar mask, and former Tulalip Tribes Chairman Stan Jones and his wife gave the governor a blanket and necklace.
Today, on the governor's desk sits a wooden box made by a state prison inmate; the box is intended to remain there for use by all future governors.
On display in the mansion is a quilt of images and icons pieced together by Linda Owen, wife of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, and given to Gregoire in June 2006.
That same year, at a town hall in Everett, Valeria Frazier presented a quilt she had sewn to the governor.
Then there are two pairs of unique and utilitarian K2 skis made at the company's Vashon Island facility. Both sets have her signature as well as depictions of the state seal, Mount Rainier and the Capitol Dome. One pair hangs from the ceiling of her office; she's used the other for skiing on Mount Rainier.
Some items carry deeper meaning. She has a United States flag that flew on the border between South and North Korea and a scarf given by the Dalai Lama.
"They're very important to me," she said.

Far and away the gift most often received is a book.
Records show Gregoire has received 328 books through early December. Most deal with political theory, state history or self-empowerment. She's also received copies of Seattle Mariners information guides and, in 2009, a yawner titled, "Economic Report of the President."
Also in 2009, a Mercer Island man sent her Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and others sent her writings of former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and political commentator Arianna Huffington.
One of the first books she got in 2005 was "Duck for President," a children's tale about an election and a recount with a very grown-up message about leadership and humility.
Last September, James Robert Deal of Lynnwood sent her "The Fluoride Deception," written to persuade people to ban fluoride from drinking water supplies.
"This is toxic waste. Fluoride itself is a slow poison," said Deal in a phone interview, adding he will soon send her another book on the issue titled, "The Case Against Fluoride."
Most of the books are sitting in boxes waiting to be read or given away.
"Many of them I give away to charity, and when I'm done serving, the rest I will go through," Gregoire said. "I'm not going to give everything away."

What the governor gives
Gov. Chris Gregoire gives gifts, too.
When foreign dignitaries visit and spend a little private time with her, they usually depart with a bottle of Washington wine.
In 2010, she gifted vino to the ambassadors of Ireland, Thailand and Uzbekistan and consul generals of Japan, Germany and Mexico. Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia received wine, too.
Gregoire also presented a paperweight bearing the state seal to two foreign leaders -- Ambassador Ali Bin Fahad Al-Hajri of Qatar and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam.
Only once, in 2009, did Gregoire give a dignitary something other than wine or a paperweight. It was a box of Almond Roca and it went to Singapore's consul general. He's not a wine drinker.






Story tags » Governor

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