Candidates bicker over campaign allegations


Herald Writer

EVERETT — There’s a flurry of candidates who are trying to win the favor of voters with play-nice promises this week.

And a few others who aren’t.

Here’s the rundown:

  • In the 2nd Congressional District, which runs from Mukilteo north to the Canadian border, John Koster is pushing hard for a strong clean-campaign pledge similar to the one signed two years ago by Jack Metcalf and Grethe Cammermeyer.

    That’s because Koster has already been the target of four hit pieces sent out in recent weeks by the state Democratic Party.

    In 1998, Metcalf and Cammermeyer were largely successful in stopping such pieces as the first and only candidates in this state to participate in the Project on Campaign Conduct, which is run by the Maine-based Institute for Global Ethics.

    But Koster, a Republican state representative from Arlington, and Rick Larsen, a Democratic Snohomish County councilman from Lake Stevens, haven’t followed in their footsteps yet.

    Larsen has agreed to a weaker pledge, whereas Koster is holding out for something stronger. The candidates are busy pointing fingers and have yet to work out the wording together.

    In the meantime, at least two of the Democratic Party’s ads appear to violate one of the principles Larsen says he’s running on, which is to document any charges against a candidate’s record.

    They imply that Koster is against a plan to guarantee prescription drug coverage for seniors. The problem is, the bill mentioned is a congressional proposal that Koster, as a state legislator, has no influence over. In addition, Koster’s opposition is not documented. The ads tell readers to "Ask John Koster why he doesn’t support H.R. 4770," but Koster spokesman Gregg Richard said Koster hadn’t seen the bill and had never been asked whether he agreed with its language or not.

    State Democratic Party chairman Paul Berendt said Koster had stated his opposition to the bill in several public forums, but he couldn’t recall which ones.

    Neither candidate was available for comment Tuesday, but Larsen spokeswoman Charla Neuman said "it’s not for us to say" whether the ads are fair or not.

    They were sent by the state party without Larsen’s involvement, which is a legal way for third parties to spend money on a candidate’s behalf.

    Brad Rourke, who runs the clean-campaign project, wouldn’t comment on the ads, but he did say that "it’s disrespectful of the citizen and it’s irresponsible to purposely confuse voters."

    The other two ads are documented and factually true, but questionable in the accuracy department. They correctly state that Koster was the only local legislator to vote against a budget bill that would have provided property tax relief for seniors, but they fail to mention that 11 leading Democrats also voted against it.

    Koster said he voted "no" because it was a budget that spent too much money.

    Rourke tried to stay out of the politics of the situation, but he did say, "There’s a difference between what’s factual and true. What’s left out is important context."

    But one ray of light in all this, Rourke said, is that "citizens are getting smarter" and are learning how to decode candidates’ campaign spin.

  • Rourke flew out from Maine on Tuesday to celebrate the project’s successes so far this year with three pledge-signing ceremonies planned for today in the 1st, 7th and 9th congressional districts.

    In the 1st District, which includes southern Snohomish County, incumbent U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and his challengers, state Sen. Dan McDonald, R-Bellevue, and Libertarian Bruce Newman of Redmond, plan to sign their pledge this morning.

    Their pledge doesn’t go as far as Maria Cantwell’s independent announcement Tuesday …

  • Cantwell, the Democratic Senate nominee and a dotcom millionaire who has dumped more than $5 million of her own money into her campaign, banned contributions from her party as well as "soft money" help from outsiders.

    Her Republican foe, three-term Sen. Slade Gorton, rejected her challenge that he follow suit, calling it a cynical stunt.

    "It’s a phony pledge, and it’s not going to happen — these groups aren’t going to take down their ads attacking Slade Gorton," said Gorton spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman. "If you have $40 million in the bank, you can afford to say anything."

    Indeed, the Sierra Club and Indian tribes, two of the groups running anti-Gorton television ads, immediately announced they would not honor Cantwell’s request. But Berendt, the state Democratic chairman, said the party will comply with her wishes in order to help her cement a winning campaign image that she is fighting a corrupt system and that Gorton is "the candidate of special interests."

    It is the most sweeping campaign-finance step taken by a major candidate. It goes a step beyond the agreement by New York’s Senate competitors, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio, over the weekend to reject soft-money television and radio ads sponsored by their parties.

    Soft money refers to unlimited funds collected by political parties. While hard money contributions, limited to $2,000 per donor, can be used for ads that advocate voting for or against a candidate, soft money can be used only to advocate an issue, boost a candidate or attack a candidate.

    Cantwell went further by seeking to outlaw "independent expenditures" by outside interest groups on her campaign’s behalf. But she said there is nothing she can do if they don’t comply.

    Talk to us

  • More in Local News

    Members of South County Fire practice onboarding and offboarding a hovering Huey helicopter during an interagency disaster response training exercise at Arlington Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. The crews learned about and practiced safe entry and exit protocols with crew from Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue before begin given a chance to do a live training. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    Snohomish, King counties train together for region’s next disaster

    Dozens of agencies worked with aviators Tuesday to coordinate a response to a simulated earthquake or tsunami.

    Police stand along Linden Street next to orange cones marking pullet casings in a crime scene of a police involved shooting on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Lake Stevens man identified in Everett manhunt, deadly police shooting

    Travis Hammons, 34, was killed by officers following a search for an armed wanted man in a north Everett neighborhood.

    Ciscoe Morris, a longtime horticulturist and gardening expert, will speak at Sorticulture. (Photo provided by Sorticulture)
    Get your Sorticulture on: Garden festival returns to downtown Everett

    It’s a chance to shop, dance, get gardening tips, throw an axe and look through a big kaleidoscope. Admission is free.

    Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
    Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

    A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

    1 stabbed at apartment in Lynnwood

    The man, 26, was taken to an Everett hospital with “serious injuries.”

    A firefighting helicopter carries a bucket of water from a nearby river to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. Highway 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    Red flag fire warning issued west of Cascades

    There are “critical fire weather” conditions due to humidity and wind in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

    A house fire damaged two homes around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
    Fire burns 2 homes in Marysville, killing 2 dogs

    Firefighters responded to a report of a fire north of Lakewood Crossing early Tuesday, finding two houses engulfed in flames.

    Dolly Hunnicutt holds onto a metal raccoon cutout while looking through metal wildflowers at the Freeborn Metal Art booth during the first day of Sorticulture on Friday, June 9, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Sorticulture brings gardening galore, fun by the bushel at 130 booths

    “Every year there’s something different to see,” one attendee said at the opening of the three-day festival in downtown Everett.

    Alex Dold lived with his mother and grandmother, Ruby Virtue, near Echo Lake. His sisters, Vanessa and Jen Dold, often would visit to play board games and watch soccer on television.
    Troubled deputies at center of $1.5M settlement in Maltby man’s death

    In 2017, Bryson McGee and Cody McCoy killed Alex Dold with their Tasers. Neither of them work for the sheriff’s office anymore.

    Most Read