You get what you pay for, and the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) certainly bought themselves a nifty gift in Attorney General Rob McKenna. The other day I posted excerpts from a McKenna speech praising the BIAW’s efforts to overturn the gubernatorial election… an episode of partisan ass-licking made even more stunning by the fact that the AG is supposedly charged with defending the Secretary of State from Dino Rossi’s BIAW-backed lawsuit.
Well McKenna is the type of AG who backs up his words with actions… at least when it comes to pandering to his financial and political patrons. The BIAW spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on independent expenditures supporting McKenna’s election, and as partial payback he’s hired BIAW attorney (and former Sound Politics commentator) Tim Ford to a high-level position in the Solicitor General’s office… a position, by the way, for which it is not at all clear he is qualified.
According to the AG’s Communications Director Greg Lane:
The Solicitor General Team was created within the AGO in 1993 to provide the following services:
- Coordinate cases at the appellate levels in both state and federal courts, and conduct appellate assistance and review programs for the Attorney General’s Office;
- Coordinate the office’s involvement with cases in the U. S. Supreme Court;
- Be primarily responsible for the preparation of formal Attorney General Opinions;
- Coordinate the office’s involvement with amicus curiae “Friend of the Court” briefs in all courts;
- Carry out the Attorney General’s duties with respect to the preparation of ballot titles and explanatory statements, and represent the state in litigation involving the powers of initiative and referendum;
- Coordinate legal advice on issues of statewide significance;
- Chair the Ethics Committee, the office’s primary resource on matters of professional responsibility;
- Serve as the office’s liaison to the state bar association; and
- Serve as legal counsel to the Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor, and the Administrator for the Courts.
Of course it’s the last bullet point that I find particularly troublesome, as McKenna has hired Tim Ford, an attorney for one the major forces behind Rossi’s lawsuit, to join Assistant AG Jeff Evan on the “team” responsible for defending the Secretary of State from the very same lawsuit. This is also the “team” that is charged with conducting cases at the appellate level, and thus will inevitably follow the election contest to the Supreme Court.
Now I doubt even McKenna would be so blatant as to assign Ford to this particular case. And my understanding is that with little or no appellate experience he is not really qualified to handle appellate cases at either the state or federal level, so he’ll probably just end up writing AGO’s and ballot titles. But it is both disturbing and telling that the AG would be so insensitive to the appearance of a conflict of interest, considering the extremely high profile of this election contest.
Make no mistake… McKenna is an unabashedly partisan politician with surprisingly bold ambitions. That he would pay back his patrons by hiring a BIAW attorney and Sound Politics commentator with dubious qualifications, is a clear indication of how he plans to use his office to advance his own political career.