John Koster wonders who cares about ‘The Caravan of Crap’

The ex-lawmaker runs a small state agency, so when he shared that essay on Facebook, people noticed.

John Koster

John Koster

OLYMPIA — Days before the election, with the president fixing the nation’s attention on a mass of Central Americans bound on foot for the United States, John Koster of Arlington joined the conversation by re-posting on Facebook a screed titled, “The Caravan of Crap.”

This sassy opus, penned by a New York radio talk show host, is a manifest of discomforting questions and conspiratorial theorems posed by those embracing the president’s call to turn back the men, women and children when they arrive at the U.S. border.

The piece travels from a rhetorical inquiry of how are they fed to a brief, crude discussion of where they do their business before reaching its destination of demagoguery, where it declares “this travelling army of invaders” is an “orchestrated international attempt to influence an American election” and must be told to go home.

When Koster put it on his personal Facebook page Oct. 27, he said he did so to “stimulate a little thought. Hopefully people will think about what should be obvious.”

It did stir reaction among his Facebook friends, although not all of it what you might expect.

They know Koster is a highly decorated conservative in the Grand Old Party who served eight years in the state House and another dozen on the Snohomish County Council.

And in his unsuccessful runs for Congress, Koster talked of wanting the federal government to do a better job deporting those who are here illegally and to make sure those seeking to immigrate follow the law.

But Koster is out of politics and working for the state government, which is why his post opened a few eyes.

“I don’t know why anybody would care,” Koster said when contacted this week. “People are entitled to an opinion. If you don’t agree with it, don’t agree with it.”

These days he’s the executive director of the County Road Administration Board, a small and mostly obscure state agency through which a sliver of gas tax receipts are funneled into transportation projects in the state’s 39 counties.

He got the job last year and answers to a nine-member board of directors, six of whom are elected members of county commissions or councils. King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, a Republican, and Skagit County Councilwoman Lisa Janicki, a Democrat, are on the board.

For Koster, this isn’t a new conversation. When he exercised his First Amendment rights at his last government gig, it made bigger headlines.

In late 2014, he got fired as Snohomish County’s ombudsman. It occurred after he signed onto a fundraising letter for the Freedom Foundation, an Olympia think tank that is devoutly anti-union. Some of the county’s Democratic elected officials and union members said the letter compromised Koster’s neutrality.

Koster sued the county, saying he was wrongfully ousted for exercising his free speech rights outside work. In 2017, he settled with the county for $585,000, more than half it for attorney fees.

In this instance, re-posting the political harangue might not cost him, but it might not be totally overlooked by Democratic lawmakers when they get around to budget and policy matters of importance to the agency.

Koster said he’d be surprised, again citing the First Amendment.

“I can’t express my opinion?” he said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos

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