Second break-in targets anti-smoking initiative

Apparently I had only half the story when I wrote about the burglary at the I-901 campaign’s Green Lake offices, where petitions containing about 1000 signatures were stolen. As first reported yesterday in the Tacoma News Tribune, and again today in the Seattle Times, there was actually a second break-in over the weekend targeting the anti-smoking initiative, this one at the Lacey offices of Progressive Campaigns, the signature gathering firm that collected about half of I-901′s signatures.

At the Green Lake office the perpetrators scavenged through desk drawers and boxes, taking only petitions, while leaving cash and laptop computers behind. There were no petitions in the Lacey office, and nothing was stolen.

The burglary in Lacey was similar to the one in Green Lake, with a shattered window, said Lacey police detective Lt. Phil Comstock.

Comstock said that, although the crimes were being investigated independently, there appear to be links between the break-ins. Police said they have few leads.

[I-901 campaign spokesman] Peter McCollum said he was unsure why the theft occurred and didn’t want to speculate.

“Could be something as sinister as political motives or it could be something as silly as a prank,” McCollum said.

I have no problem speculating. It was the sinister political motives thing.

The Times article quotes I-901 opponent Gary Murrey, vice president of the Great American Gaming Corp. — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. — which operates four of the state’s largest non-tribal casinos, in Lakewood, Tukwila, Everett and Kent. Forgive me for being a tad suspicious, but this is the same Canadian company that bankrolled last year’s slot machine initiative, I-892, and it is reasonable to expect that Great Canadian will bring the same shady ethical and legal standards to its WA operations that it allegedly brought to its loanshark-infested B.C. casinos, and its Hong Kong based floating brothel.

And dirty tricks are nothing new to this issue. Last year, when anti-smoking advocates attempted to push an I-901-like initiative, opponents helped scuttle the effort by filing a similarly titled initiative intended to confuse voters. So Murrey tried the same ruse again this year.

Murrey has filed a rival measure, Initiative 911, which would ban smoking indoors in places where children were present but would allow adults older than 21 to light up in businesses such as bars and minicasinos.

Hey, I have an idea Gary. Since you seem to care so much about children, why don’t we just raise the legal gambling age to 21, so we won’t have so many minors illegally smoking and drinking in your casinos, huh? Maybe I’ll file that initiative.

In any case, our Canadian neighbors have failed once again to jigger WA’s initiative process to their advantage; I-901 has collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and I-911 hasn’t. That I-901 opponents would stoop to petty burglaries is a sign of desperation. But it should come as no surprise that an industry with a well-earned reputation as a cesspool of organized crime and addiction, might organize a crime in defense of an addictive and destructive habit like smoking.

Comments

  1. 5

    spews:

    Hey, I have an idea Gary. Since you seem to care so much about children, why don’t we just raise the legal gambling age to 21, so we won’t have so many minors illegally smoking and drinking in your casinos, huh? Maybe I’ll file that initiative.

    Goldy, the age limit is 18 today for both gambling and smoking, so already there are no minors doing those things in casinos. And if you want to give a huge boost to the gaming industry, do exactly what you say. Raise the gambling age to 21, so that 18 to 20 year olds can’t go, but instead play poker in their dorm rooms, gathering an overly amorous view of what it must like to be in a casino throwing around big bucks, and then blow their life savings at Muckleshoot on their 21st birthday.

  2. 6

    spews:

    i don’t remember reading all your fiery articles on the break-ins at the GOP offices. did i miss them?
    and i have to add….that anyone that does something illegal is an idiot…..i don’t care what “party” they are from.
    however…this smacks of an inside job to start a pity party. we all know who the real pros are when it comes to slashing tires and breaking in……..

  3. 9

    MuddytheWaters spews:

    Once again Goldy purposely leaves out a clear motive which was in fact reported by the TNT. Signature are just like cash. They can be stolen and turned back in for $75 cents or more each. So 1,000 signatures is like leaving $750.00 laying on the table.
    Kinda funny that an office with computers, cash and signatures laying around has no alarm system? These guys raised over $600,000 and are burning through money like there’s no tomorrow and they don’t have an alarm system?
    This was staged by the I-901 people to rally the troops because they need signatures or it was a simple burglary.
    Kinda funny also that assuming about 2.1 million voters are non-smokers yet I-901 hasn’t gotten contributions from more than about 100 individuals. Over $500,000 came from just 6 groups.
    Let’s also be honest in informing people that the American Cancer Society was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and the PDC said “According to a report from the commission’s staff, “the violations are significant,”
    Breathe, the front group for the ACS was also found guilty of failing to report in accordance with the law. In short, both organizations aren’t above breaking the law to get what they want done.

  4. 10

    MuddytheWaters spews:

    christmasghost @ 8, you’re likely correct that the people who did it probably don’t smoke. Of course if they wanted to throw law enforcement off the track it might have been a good idea.

  5. 11

    Another TJ spews:

    I agree with those who say it was dirty trick. It hasn’t been reported in the papers, but I have it on good authority that one the “thieves” left behind a copy of a memo in which Terri Schiavo’s death is described as “a great political issue.”

  6. 12

    Ddave spews:

    Goldy also fails to inform his readers that any tribal businesses now open and any opened in the future are exempt from a smoking ban and thus regardless what you feel about smokers they will simply flock to businesses that will allow them to smoke without being harassed. Is it any coincidence that numerous tribes have announced plans recently to build new hotels?
    I-901 does not ban smoking statewide. IT ACTUALLY MAKES EVERY OF THE 35 OR SO TRIBAL RESERVATIONS ACROSS THE SATE DESIGNATED SMOKING AREAS. IN SHORT, SMOKING IN A TRIBAL BUSINESS WILL BE OK. IN A TAX PAYING BUSINESS IT WILL BE ILLEGAL.
    Businesses in Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Sea-tac, Tacoma, Fife, Puyallup, Everett, Marysville just to name a few will have revenue losses in the neiborhood of 30% to 40%.
    Whether you like smokers or not they contribute over $450 million a year in cigarette and sales taxes just in the state of Washington and this is before the new cigarette tax takes effect or tabacco settlement funds.
    Goldy should addresss what will happen when “smokers” start buying their cigarettes, food, drinks at tribal businesses which keep all the revenue and the state gets ZERO.
    Our present Clean Indoor Air Act and the free market system has brought about the elimination of smoking in 80% or more of the businesses in this state. The fact is the vast maJority of places left are businesses that cater almost exclusively to adults. What we’re talking about is really banning smoking in bars and taverns and mini casinos. Are there exceptions to this rule, yes but that doesn’t mean we need a law to tell the owner of a business that he has to ban smoking.
    If his or her customers don’t want people smoking they will
    complain or not come back and if enough people complain or don’t come back the owner will ban smoking not because the government says so but because his or her customers do.
    Smoking bans work where and when the majority of customers in a given place don’t want smoking allowed and won’t work where the majority of customers are smokers it’s that simple.
    The fact is in most taverns, bars and mini casinos or gambling establishemnts the majority of customers are smokers.
    How many successful taverns and bars ban smoking? There isn’t more than a handful in the entire state and many of the restaurants than ban smoking still allow it in their lounge area. .

  7. 13

    spews:

    another tj @11….oh god…please stop. my sides are hurting from laughing. just where was this “good authority”? and bathroom walls at the local bar don’t count……….

  8. 14

    pbj spews:

    Muddy@9,

    Do you work for the Tobacco industry or the Gambling interests? Sorry, when it comes to my health, I iwll trust the American Cancer Society rather than Great American Gaming Corp and some unsubstantiated claims of wrongdoing by ACS.

  9. 15

    Dave spews:

    pbj-
    They’re not unsubstanciated charges against either ACS or Breathe. Check with the PDC. The Public Disclosure Commission ruled in both cases that American Cancer Society and Breathe were guilty and in the case of ACS they ruled the violations were serious.

  10. 16

    All tools here, and yet there are still screws loose. spews:

    Those anti-smoking initiative commercials are dumb!!! If someone doesn’t want second hand smoke they shouldn’t work in a bar or a casino. I am for a business’ right to choose wether they are a non-smoking establishment or not.

  11. 17

    spews:

    Wowswers. Could this be a dirty political trick? Smells fishy but no proof yet. The only dirty political tricks that have been proven recently is a bunch of donks in Ohio flatten some tires on some vans to prevent voter turn out. Hey Ohio is the same state the donks lsot by 120,000. And people think there was a conspiracy and Kerry really won. Blahahahahahahahahaha!

  12. 21

    pbj spews:

    dj@19,

    You also failed to inform the readers that the main finding was that the reporting of the fundraising was “reported from 43 to
    70 days late.” . Nor did you mention that the other 7 charges were dropped.

    from your link:

    “Stipulation of Facts, Violations and Penalty – The Stipulation includes a penalty of $7,500 with $4,000 suspended based on compliance with certain conditions. There are no comparable cases involving late reporting of grass roots lobbying activities. There have been recent cases of late reporting by political committees where similar amounts of money were involved and the penalty was $5,000 with $2,500 suspended. Those cases involved non-reporting for several years. For example, the Grays Harbor County Democratic Central Committee failed to timely report $60,881 in contributions received and $52,327 in expenditures made for a period of over four years, and paid a penalty of
    $5,000 with $2,500 suspended.”

    So what we have is a loosely knit alliance of organizations who are interested in keeping people healthy. Did they make a mistake due to their being naive about political campaigns and grass roots contributions? Sure. But unlike the Great Canadian Gaming Corp, they aren’t in court for running prostitution and loan sharking.

  13. 22

    Dave spews:

    PBJ- You’re saying the American Cancer Society’s PAC which has spent over $500,000.00 just involing I-901 is grass roots?
    Who are you kidding. As far as GCG, I don’t believe criminal charges were ever filed were they? In other words, these are simply allegations made by people who stood to gain financially.
    In the case of ACS it was found guilty by a state agency of repeated and serious violations of the our laws.
    If GCG is in fact guilty their license to operate in this state would be pulled by the WSGC.
    In short you have a company who has had as yet unsubstanciated claims made against it versus a PAC tied directly to the ACS which has been found guilty.

  14. 23

    John spews:

    Sounds like Ddave is smoker, or what else would explain his elaborate justification for exposing everyone else to indoor air pollution. The business argument is tired and old. Sounds like you must work for the Association of Washington Businesses. Maybe you should have a chat with someone in the healthcare field buddy. Your claim that if a majority of people did not want smoking in the bar they would boycott it is just plain wrong. Welcome to the real world asshole, all of my friends don’t smoke and we go out to bars and clubs all of the time. Seems like the only smoke-free bar in Seattle is a freakin’ dorky pub. If you want to smoke, I say step outside like they do in California. Oh yeah, and I’m sure all of those bars in California and New York are shutting down right. jerk, people go to the bars to drink not to give each cancer.

  15. 25

    x spews:

    Outrageous the way people steal initiatives. Thieves stole I 912 petitions, too. I don’t understand people who would sell their souls to do that.

  16. 26

    Theman spews:

    Johm @ 23-

    I’m with you buddy. Being from California myself, I really enjoyed going out without coming home to still smell like cigarette stink in my hair and clothes. It’s about time other states follow California and join the 1st world in promoting healthy environments. ItÂŒ

  17. 27

    dianna fry spews:

    Goldy..now that initiative 901 has passed, what is the recourse for the geriatric veterans in wheelchairs and the blue haired Grannies whose only pleasure is charity drives and shuffleboard if these places shut down. It is embarrassing to me as an American to see these citizens criminalized beside the recreational drug users and felons. I forget….what are our veterans, then and now, risking thier lives for? Oh, I remember, rights and freedom.