Back in 2003, I was just stretching my legs on the local political scene. I decided to volunteer for Peter Steinbrueck’s reelection campaign. At the 36th District candidate’s forum, several candidates started to mention a rezone of some residential land near Rick’s, the Lake City stripclub. Like most folks, I thought it was no big deal, and didn’t think it would play much of a factor.
Three City Council members who voted to override the planning department on a strip club’s parking-lot rezone turn out to be beneficiaries of some $39,000 in campaign contributions that the club’s owners allegedly funneled through various contributors to get around donor limit laws. The rezone is then revoted and rejected. The council members return the money and pay fines. Two of them are promptly ousted at the next election.
It’s worth noting that the city council people involved never faced any charges for wrongdoing themselves. That said, the whole thing stank to high heaven.
But what struck me about the whole affair is how small ball this was. Seattle is not like Chicago, Miama, LA, or Boston, and certainly not like New Orleans.
Our corruption is nothing like that of those cities. For example, Richard McIver had to pay a fine for allowing former Govenor Albert Rossellini to buy him lunch at Quizno’s. Quizno’s, for God’s sake. McIver got nailed for a six dollar sandwich.
So, suffice it to say I wasn’t blown away by today’s news:
With a touch of defiance, Seattle strip-club owner Frank Colacurcio Jr. and a longtime associate pleaded guilty today to criminal charges related to the so-called “Strippergate” campaign-finance scandal of 2003.
His father, Frank Colacurcio Sr., was also expected to plead guilty to the same charges, but the longtime strip-club magnate, who is 90, did not appear in court due to health problems. His attorney said Colacurcio Sr. will enter a plea by Monday.
In a plea bargain that avoided jail time, Colacurcio Jr. agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and one year of probation. His father is expected to accept an identical deal.
Those penalties are in addition to a $55,000 civil settlement approved Wednesday by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.
Gil Conte, a former lounge singer and longtime Colacurcio associate, also pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor conspiracy charge and agreed to pay a $1,000 fine.
After the sentencing, Conte did a quick soft-shoe dance step for a throng of reporters, and said, “I didn’t do nothing.”
“I didn’t do nothing.” What is this, Goodfellas? C’mon.