Buildergate: follow the money

In defending her boss from allegations that he engaged in illegal fundraising months before he officially announced his candidacy for governor, Dino Rossi’s ironically named spokesperson Jill Strait reaches back to a December, 2007, Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) ruling to establish Rossi’s innocence:

“The PDC staff after a three-month investigation found no evidence that Dino Rossi had decided to run for governor before Oct. 11, 2007. Prior to that date, Dino made clear to the Master Builders, and anyone else who asked, that he had not decided whether or not to run for office. He was free to say whatever he wanted, to whomever he wanted, and he certainly did not ask anyone to do anything illegal or unethical.”

Um… that is not exactly true Jill, and I really don’t think you want to go there.  For if reporters study the extensive documentation from last year’s PDC investigation in light of the newly revealed evidence, they may very well come to a strikingly different conclusion.  Indeed, while the staff report concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to legally prove that Rossi had been operating as a candidate within the technical definition of the statute, or that his Forward Washington Foundation was merely a proxy gubernatorial campaign, there was more than enough evidence to convince two of five commissioners to vote in favor of referring the case to the Attorney General’s office.  As for the other three commissioners, according to the minutes of the December 6, 2007 meeting, they all expressed reservations about Rossi’s activities:

Commissioner Brumsickle commented that while he may wonder about the intent of the activities at issue, five months of investigation did not show facts determining an enforcement action should proceed in this matter.

Commissioner Schellberg commented that the staff recommendation is proper and although the activity in question was political activity, it is not regulated political activity.  He suggested that Forward Washington voluntarily disclose its donor list.

Commissioner Tilly commented that while this matter was difficult and troubling, it has been determined by staff that the statutes were satisfied so as not to proceed with an enforcement action.  Commissioner Tilly stated that in the future, the statutes may need to be amended by the Legislature to address this loophole.

And these were the comments of the commissioners who voted to dismiss the complaint.  Not exactly the legal and ethical clean slate that Strait and Rossi claim.

Rossi has vehemently denied that he was campaigning for governor prior to officially filing his C1PC in October 2007, and yet we now know that he was calling board members of the Master Builders Association in May of 2007, urging them to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to “a fund for Rossi” that was expressly created by the BIAW with the intent of influencing the 2008 gubernatorial race.

In talking to the press yesterday, Rossi tried to have it both ways, both defending his actions and kinda-sorta denying them at the same time:

“This was in 2007, long before I was a candidate for governor. I didn’t ask them to put money anywhere but it would have been perfectly OK for me to do that because I wasn’t even a candidate.”

To which I ask my friends in the media:  define “OK.”  Was it “OK” because as a technically undeclared candidate there was no technical prohibition on him raising money for a technically undeclared independent expenditure campaign?  Or was it simply “OK” for Rossi, who we all knew was running for governor, and who had been giving his same campaign stump speech around the state for two-plus years under the guise of the Forward Washington foundation, to raise unlimited, unreported contributions for a fund specifically intended to spend millions of dollars in support of his impending official candidacy… in flagrant violation of the spirit (if not the letter) of the campaign finance and disclosure statutes overwhelmingly passed via citizen initiative?

In recommending dismissal of last year’s complaint, the PDC staff report expressed the opinion that there was “insufficient evidence” to determine that Forward Washington was a political committee, but tell me, does the relevant law the report cites really not apply to the known activities of Rossi and the BIAW?

RCW 42.17.020(38) defines a “political committee” as any person (except a candidate or an individual dealing with his or her own funds or property) having the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures in support of, or opposition to, any candidate or any ballot proposition.  To qualify as a “political committee,” an organization must have as one of its primary purposes “to affect, directly or indirectly, governmental decision making by supporting or opposing candidates or ballot propositions.”

And really… regardless of whether Rossi managed to skate through and around a legal loophole (a determination that won’t be made until months after the election), was it really ethically “OK” for him to be directly involved in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond legal campaign contribution limits to finance so-called independent expenditures?

Dino Rossi has a long established track record of running dirty political campaigns, so why should our local media, which seems almost proud of its deeply profound cynicism toward politicians in general, accept Rossi’s explanations unskeptically?  This thing just stinks, and you all know it.

There’s a lot more shit left to uncover in this Buildergate scandal, if only you look for it.  And my advice is… follow the money.

Comments

  1. 1

    ivan spews:

    “Technically undeclared?” What a laugh! Rossi has been running for Governor in 2008 since Judge Bridges’ decision.

    The voters will hoot and jeer at his legal position. Even if it is upheld in a court of law, the court of public opinion will convict him for being a crook.

  2. 3

    kirkregard spews:

    Only in the looney mind of the nutroots can someone like Rossi be found guilty of something he didn’t do. And yet Jim McDermott can be found guilty by a court of law and yet some how be a martyr for freedom of speech.

    You just look pathetic even attempting to impugne Rossi

  3. 4

    Rujax! spews:

    yeah #2 like when reagan cut a deal with the iranians to fuck carter out of the 1980 Presidential election.

    Like that, asshole?

  4. 5

    Rujax! spews:

    one thing we know; a REPUBLICAN will break any law, push any guideline, disenfranchise any voter…in order to get elected…in order to reward their cronies and line their own pockets.

  5. 6

    Cecil spews:

    “there was more than enough evidence to convince two of five commissioners to vote in favor of referring the case to the Attorney General’s office.”

    Ok? So two people “thought” it was worth a “referral” that didn’t happen. And had it happened would likely have lead to no action by the AG because the commission found “it has been determined by staff that the statutes were satisfied.” So you think it’s evidence of a crime that 2 people held an opinion that another body should review the matter? Hmm, I wonder if PDC bodies ever have people with a political leaning? No chance of that. Yep 2 people’s concern = CRIME.

    “Not exactly the legal and clean blank slate that Strait and Rossi claim.” Actually it was exactly a clean slate, because while they think this activity, IE they have the OPINION that this activity should be illegal, they state clearly it was legal. So, they in fact gave him a clean legal slate.

    “urging them to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to “a fund for Rossi” that was expressly created by the BIAW with the intent of influencing the 2008 gubernatorial race.”

    The BIAW has a political act for spending to influence elections. They can spend that on any races they think might serve their interests. There is no basis that it’s a “Rossi” account. It’s a PAC spending act and could be used on any race. The highlighted link “a rossi act” shows them saying “BIAW made a decision in early 07 that they were going to support Rossi IF HE RAN….” If he did not they’d support the actual GOP (that’s republican because it’s a secret) candidate or invest in other races. Have you any evidence that Rossi claimed to be running and that he co-ordinated fund raising for his campaign? Want to bet that Gregoire’s phone records will show contacts with WEA, Tribes, Trial lawyers, ACLU. The fact that they have contacts does not prove your allegation. If you have proof you should post it.

    “who we all knew was running for governor.” As a legal matter, and I draw your attention to the fact that this is a legal matter and not one of opinion, none of us “knew he was running” in any definable way. Post otherwise if you have evidence that he made himself a candidate in private or public.

    I missed your agnst when Gregoire gave the tribes $140 million (recurring revenue) in exchange for a few less slots…. oh, and $650,000 in contributions. Was that within the “spirit” of campaign finance laws. Too funny.

    ““OK” for him to be directly involved in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond legal campaign contribution limits to finance so-called independent expenditures?” In order to answer the question, one has to assume your right about the law and the outcome of any proceedings. Since we can’t assume either, the question is really an implication of illegal activity in drag as a question.

    If you want to say something smells bad, fine and you can make a nice case. But you want to define a crime where you are absent any evidence. Nor are you willing to turn that insight into the close associations of your preferred party and it’s preferred funding sources. To most any citizen that’s been voting for a while it’s pretty clear there’s no there here.

  6. 7

    Spike spews:

    Do you want to fix a typo? It should be “accept” not “except” at the end of your entry. Kind of distracting.

  7. 8

    Rujax! spews:

    we must be getting close to the truth…the wingnuts are piling on here…this’ll bring the dino-sore and his handlers (cough*biaw*cough*cough) down as well.

    Nice.

  8. 9

    kirkregard spews:

    and by ‘piling on’ you mean ‘calling your bullshit’

    Let’s see the evidence that Rossi was a declared candidate!

    You can’t provide it, so all you can do is make up shit.

  9. 10

    proud leftist spews:

    Dino–he’s a prototypical Republican politician. He is corrupt, dumb as dirt, and incapable of recognizing the truth even if it’s fucking him in the ass. Where you guys find these people?

  10. 11

    Cecil spews:

    Keep this simple. If you want to say someone is acting in loopholes or should make different choices have at it. That’s what the PDC guys said, legal but maybe it shouldn’t be.

    If you are going to call someone a criminal then it’s up to YOU to post the evidence.

    Let’s have it. Since some would do anything at all to fry Rossi it’s plain as day that real evidence of any crime is not forthcoming. Lots of articles with lots of gotcha claims and “OMG this is going to hurt the Rossi campaign” but a whole lot of nothing when asked for specifics.

    Seriously, this won’t last one news cycle without something damning and if you had it you’d have run with it instead of this whiny diatribe about the appearance of impropriety. An appearance that is easily fleshed out on both sides of this election. It’s a wash and vanishes without real criminality.

  11. 12

    mark spews:

    @4 Use a capital “R” when speaking about the
    finest man ever to live, asshole. You want a
    piece of me?

  12. 15

    mark spews:

    I’m still waiting for John Kerrys’ plan to get
    us out of Iraq, where is it? Al Gore is the
    smartest man in the world, right? Where is he?
    Al Gore , he’ll know what to do with our current democrat caused financial crisis.

  13. 16

    Poster Child spews:

    I’m afraid this story will get no traction whatsoever.
    a) the Prefers GOPs have a long history of using any means necessary and rationalizing it under the theory that the ends justify the means.
    b) any noise in the MSM on this scandal will be discounted as obvious liberal bias.
    c) the presidential election (to say nothing of the taxpayer bailout of failed free market capitalists) are taking up all the outraged bandwidth at the moment. and, sadly
    d) she’s a bitch, while he’s folksy.

  14. 17

    Ekim spews:

    Rujax! @8

    Wow, I think you’re right. The wingnuts protest too much. There is pay dirt here somewhere.

    Oh, and wingnut mark, what did regan do that was so good for the country that makes him so great? I know he was a decent, though not great actor, and he played the part of president quite well. But what good did he do for the country?

  15. 18

    ArtFart spews:

    As the housing market continues to collapse, look for the BIAW’s members to journey to Olympia, with contrite hearts and hats in hand, to beg for whatever scraps of gubmint work might be available.

  16. 19

    proud leftist spews:

    12
    Wow. Reagan, the greatest man ever to live. That is just sad that someone could be so deluded by ideology as to make such patently absurd claim. I pity your life.

  17. 21

    spews:

    A few things:

    1) What happened to the “fund for Rossi” that was collected when he was “not” a candidate? Did its funds get transferred into a different place once he officially declared?

    2) If this wasn’t money “in anticipation” of Rossi’s candidacy, then what was the reason for collecting it? Are the MBA and BIAW in the habit of gathering large sums of money for individuals “unassociated” with them? If not for campaign purposes, what was all that money used for?

    3) The “letter of the law” argument reminds me of the Seattle School Board and those trees at Ingraham HS. Oh, we can’t cut trees because of the construction permit? Then we’ll cancel the permit, cut the trees, and then reapply for the permit. The BIAW/MBA schtick doesn’t pass the smell test either. And if it’s an offense, this one looks criminal rather than civil (to this non-lawyer).

  18. 22

    mark spews:

    @19 Thank you for using a capital letter,
    however, while I do admire Reagan, you have missed my attempt at humor.

  19. 23

    Rujax! spews:

    Sure, FUCKHEAD @ 12…any time, anyplace.

    Potato guns point blank!

    oh my fucking god I insulted st. ronnie for you. the patron saint of union busters and de-regulatin’ gummint haters and race-baiters, middle class destroyers and serial liars everywhere.

    this is where reaganomics is finally revealed as the selfish sham and disaster it well and truly is.

    st. ronnie is dead. good riddance.

    (ps…he was a shitty actor too)

  20. 24

    Cecil spews:

    21. The “fund” is BIAW’s. Should they chose to spend money supporting Rossi, they can. Or running adds for or against State Senate or House candidates or for or against initiatives. BIAW supports Rossi but has no obligation to do so and can spend it’s political funds in whatever way it chooses. It is not an arm of the Rossi campaign.

    They collect money in anticipation of supporting both candidates and causes that support their interests, just like liberal groups do. Yes they are in the habit of collecting money for political lobbying and campaigns even before they know who’ll be on the ballot. Had Rossi not run, they’d have used it I’m sure to support the GOP candidate. What would Moveon do with it’s money had Obama not won the nomination? Send it back or use it for the Clinton candidacy?

    The letter of the law is all there is. Both parties take advantage of it. There can be no credibility for anyone who damns one side of the system for using “loopholes”. It’s rampant on both sides.

  21. 26

    Tom Foss spews:

    Apparently many of you failed to actually read the law and spend any time understanding it, or you just want to change the subject.

    Rossi’s behaivor is blatantly illegal regardless of whether BIAW was even engaged in illegal acts. He was involved in an alleged independent campaign for an office he actually had filed papers to run for in 2004 right after he lost, and the whole world knew he was running for it. The fact that BIAW is flagrantly also ignoring the law is actually somewhat superfluous to Rossi’s actions, except that they all fit a similar pattern. And remember, the issue he intervened on was lobbying for BIAW to start the fund for the Governor’s race. This was an additional illegal act by BIAW by communicating with him, and any candidate for city council would know what they were doing was illegal.

    Imagine for a minute, if Gregoire had not filed papers for office, and tried to make this same idiotic distinction and argument- that in 2007 she coordinated and made calls to various groups on independent expenditure campaigns, but then she claimed she could do that since she was not an announced candidate. The Repubs would be screaming so loud, we would not be able to hear ourselves even think.

    This is par for the course for Dino, based on his long record of skating outside the edge of ethical boundaries. Not what I want in a leader in any times, especially these times.

    You can scream and call people names, and you are entitled to your opinions, but as Daniel Moynihan once said, you are not entitled to your own facts. Facts are indeed, stubborn things.

  22. 27

    mark spews:

    Democrats assault the BIAW who only help to keep the cost of housing down and apply
    common sense rules and regulations to the
    homebuilding trades. The amount of taxes that
    are collected from this industry have been staggering over the last twenty years. But
    guess what? Game over. You think the state
    money supply is bad you ain’t seen nothing
    yet.Democrats are biting the hand that has been feeding them and are entirely too stupid
    to know it. Unfuckingbelievable.

  23. 28

    Cecil spews:

    26.

    That’s what’s called a Claim. A fact is something indisputable. That anything illegal happened is an assertion, a claim. Making it with indignation and outrage does nothing to turn your claim into a fact.

    If anything, the PDC came to the opposite conclusion and that’s their job, meaning, those who claim nothing illegal has occurred have substantially greater basis for their claim.

    The difference between Gregoire in the prior years and Rossi, she’s an elected official. Rossi is not. He is at no increased burden than I. Not even if it was likely he’d run again. He was not in office and was not acting as part of a campaign. That might be a “loophole” but facts are what you said, stubborn things. If he broke the law prove it and let’s see the sanctions. None forthcoming? Going to blame the republican control in this state for failing to prosecute?

  24. 30

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    23. Rujax! spews:
    Sure, FUCKHEAD @ 12…any time, anyplace

    Rujax–
    And vulgar comments like this are why you, like your hero & polemate KLOWNstein were kicked off the 3rd Grade Debate Team…in your early teens!

  25. 32

    Ekim spews:

    Ahhh, mark is a tool of the BIAW. How is that working for yah?

    By the way mark, you may want to work on your punctuation a bit. Your post @27 looks really bad. Almost like you’re illiterate.