Noemie does a great job laying out the issue at hand:
The documentation … does not set this matter to rest, but instead demonstrates need for further investigation. Apparently, Mr. Esser failed to apply in advance for leave from his AGO position to conduct WA-GOP business on 1/29/07. His leave request for the hours he worked on that day is dated 2/16/07, the day I called to ask for the documentation.
Mr. McKenna, Washington’s top legal officer, and Mr. Esser, who represented that office to the public, hold a uniquely high level of responsibility to strictly follow state’s ethics laws — and to appear to the public to strictly follow these laws — both in their letter and their intent.
It may only be a perception of impropriety, but even that should be avoided — though of course, there is no perception of impropriety if the media refuses to inform the public about it. At the risk of pissing off my journalist friends, I’d just like to suggest that had this been a close aide to Gov. Gregoire, on the state payroll, elected party chair, and doing party work during official state business hours, the story might not be totally ignored. In fact, the self-righteous Seattle Times editorial pretty much writes itself.
I’m just sayin’.
David Postman of the Seattle Times followed up on Noemie’s post today, and reports that Esser filed his “leave slip” late. Noemie thanks Postman for his efforts, but points out that Esser didn’t bother to fill out a leave slip until after he was contacted by Noemie on Feb. 16. Huh. And yet…
So I called Esser and asked him if he took Monday off, and he said no, but that he did take off some “personal hours” that day to conduct party business. Hmm. I have no reason to doubt Esser, and assume that if somebody were to request documentation there must be some kind of time card or something… dated prior to our 11AM, 2/1/2007 conversation.
In fact, Esser didn’t bother to fill out his leave slip until two weeks later, when Noemie finally requested official documentation. I wonder, if not for Noemie’s inquiry, whether Esser would have put in a leave slip at all?
Postman also reports that Esser was never on the WSRP payroll while still employed by the AG’s office, so we can’t really accuse him of double dipping. But I don’t really think that’s the main point. The fact is, the chair of a state party should never have been on the state payroll for even a moment. Esser should have resigned immediately. Surely, the AG’s office could have functioned without its “Outreach Director” — I mean, it’s not like Esser was a real attorney or anything.
Still, thanks Dave, for following up.