Lawmaker now backs WSU in Everett

For years, the road to a four-year university in Snohomish County ended at the feet of state Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe.

Time and again, the Bothell Democrat kept the Legislature from moving ahead on a new college until it made all its promised investments in the University of Washington Bothell campus.

No more.

On Wednesday, McAuliffe threw her full support behind Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson’s dream of opening a branch campus of Washington State University by 2020.

McAuliffe, in an interview and comments to The Heralds editorial board, said she stood her ground to make sure the state kept its commitments to UW Bothell before setting a course for a new university.

“Now we’re off and running,” she said of UW Bothell. “It’s time to turn our attention to WSU Everett.”

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Democratic Lt. Gov. Brad Owen isn’t having much fun in his campaign for re-election against former Republican state Sen. Bill Finkbeiner.

Owen’s facing a possible ethics probe stemming from how he set up and operated a nonprofit as an appendage of his office, a nonprofit that employed his wife.

And he’s facing a possible penalty for not filing a host of campaign finance reports on time.

Owen will appear in front of the state Public Disclosure Commission Thursday to explain why some past campaign reports didn’t show up on time.

Last week, PDC staff concluded Owen failed to timely file a November 2011 report detailing the source of nearly $50,000 in contributions and $17,000 in expenditures. He’s also alleged to have not filed reports for his surplus campaign account from January 2009 through February 2012.

The allegations are detailed in a 57-page document laying the groundwork for commissioners to impose a potentially hefty fine for a small raft of violations.

Owen said Wednesday he’s signed a stipulated agreement with the agency staff on what occurred and it does not contain any fine amount.

“We agreed that there were some unintentional violations,”he said. “They acknowledge we made a good faith effort to clarify and comply. I will make the point that I don’t believe a penalty is appropriate.”

Owen said a PDC staff member told him in a 2006 email he did not need to file reports he’s now accused of failing to turn in. He said he forwarded the email to the agency after its investigators released their findings last week.

Commissioners can accept, reject or try to modify the agreement. Owen is looking for resolution.

“I want to get it over with,” he said.

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When Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen surveyed the audience at Burlington City Hall on Monday he saw writers from some of the state’s largest newspapers and most-read political blogs.

And he knew they weren’t there to see or hear him.

They’d come for the night’s main political event not played on a football field: Republican John Koster and Democrat Suzan DelBene’s first face-to-face meeting since the primary.

Afterward he joked how he’d have had to swallow swords or been Jo-Jo the Dog-faced boy to have stolen the spotlight from the first face-to-face meeting in the general election of those two candidates in the 1st Congressional District.

As things turned out, the Koster-DelBene match-up proved a whole lot tamer than the undercard of Larsen and his Republican opponent, Dan Matthews.

Matthews is a tad more than a long shot against Larsen, 47, of Everett. He spent the evening jawing and jabbing at Larsen, repeatedly dissing the six-term incumbent’s record as 2nd Congressional District representative.

In one blast, Matthews, 62, of Mukilteo, said Larsen can’t claim he played a role in helping the Boeing Co. snare the multi-billion dollar contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers.

Washington’s “congressional delegation decided to hide in the bushes”during the heated political battle between backers of Boeing and Airbus, he said.

He contended Sen. Henry M. Jackson, an archangel of Washington politics, would have told the Pentagon to give it to Boeing no questions asked. “Scoop Jackson would not have allowed that contract to even go to bid,” he said.

Larsen didn’t respond to Matthews’ claim. Rather he argued that in one of the least productive periods for Congress, he helped pass bills to improve oil pipeline safety, increase Washington’s share of federal transportation dollars and ensure Boeing was in position to win the tanker contract.

“This has been the least productive Congress in a long, long time,” he said. “I hope I can make the case that I’ve been productive.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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