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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hard GOP Partisans Power Rossi’s “Non-Partisan” Non-Profit

posted by on July 12 at 12:12 PM

Seattle Times reporter Ralph Thomas follows up the brouhaha about Dino Rossi’s non-profit, Forward Washington (the State Democrats filed a complaint with the state alleging FW is really a Rossi for Governor campaign outfit) with an article this morning about FW’s activities.

Under the headline “Rossi group replaying themes of 2004 race” Thomas’s reporting makes it clear that FW is nothing more than a soap box for Rossi’s GOP agenda.

Thomas writes:

For the past month, Rossi has been touring the state promoting the foundation’s “Washington Idea Bank.” The plan, he says, is to solicit suggestions from regular citizens, then offer the best ones to the Legislature and governor.

Democrats have been sending a staff member armed with a video camera to nearly every Forward Washington event, just as they did at Rossi’s 2004 campaign appearances.

Their footage shows that Rossi hasn’t altered his message much — covering many of the same issues, even including some of the same anecdotes and turns of phrase.

Rossi also has been using many of the talking points that Republican leaders in the Legislature came up with earlier this year to criticize the budget increases Gregoire and the Democrats approved.

But I think Thomas misses a few important tidbits.

He doesn’t report that Matthew Manweller, the Chairman of the Kittitas County Republican Party, is on the FW committee in charge of winnowing down citizen ideas to present to the legislature. He also doesn’t report that another member of the committee, Susan Hutchison, is a regular GOP contributor, including donating $500 to hard partisan Stephen Johnson, the former state Republican Senator who ran a BIAW-backed campaign for state Supreme Court. She also considered running against Mike McGavick in the GOP primary last year. The only “balance” is committee member Lou Guzzo, who used to work for former conservative Dem Governor Dixie Lee Ray.

One FW board member (former GOP state Sen. Dan McDonald) is quoted in Thomas’ story defending FW. Thomas writes:

“[McDonald] is convinced Rossi would have launched the nonprofit regardless of whether he had any desire to run again. He chastised the Democrats for their sad and cynical view of the world.’ ‘I’m glad that he has chosen to not sideline himself,’ McDonald said.

This limp defense is worth unpackaging. First, McDonald frames his response as if Rossi is running for Governor. “Regardless of whether he had any desire to run” he’d be doing this? That is to say, even if he wasn’t running for Governor, he’d be doing this.

Second, non-profits are not allowed to engage in partisan activity. End of story. Whether Rossi is running for governor or not, he’s not allowed, as the head of a 501 (c) 4, to go around the state stumping on GOP issues. In other words, McDonald doesn’t even address the central accusation here—that FW is partisan. That’s called a non-denial denial, no?

Finally, McDonald unwittingly reveals—with a one-liner that sounds like it came straight from the Washington State Democrats talking points—the whole point of FW: “I’m glad he’s chosen not to sideline himself.” Exactly. FW was created to keep Rossi (and his ideas for state government) off the sidelines and in the headlines.

p.s. I can’t resist this one. When the NYT did a very similar article about John Edwards “non-profit” a few weeks back, I said here on Slog that Rossi seemed to be up the same sort of thing. Knee jerk partisan Democrats attacked me in the comments thread—ignoring my point about Rossi—and bashing me as an Edwards hater. I responded by asking if you’d have the same complaints about an article taking Rossi to task for his “non-profit.” Do you?

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Well, John Edwards' non-profit actually seems to have helped people, a fact that the NYT conspicuously (blatantly) ignored in their somewhat pathetic hit piece, while the Rossi non-profit only seems to help Rossi as some kind of phony listening tour.

BTW, shouldn't Rossi's organization be called "Backward Washington" or "Fuck you, Washington?"

Posted by Original Andrew | July 12, 2007 12:25 PM

It's not that Rossi is a radical Red Bushie.

It's that he LIES about being one.

And tries to LIE to the public about where his "donations" and "kickbacks" come from.

Just like Safeco LIED about why they gave him a "parting gift" that was a disguised political contribution.

But, being a Red Bushie and hating America as he does, he and his comrades in the Red Bushie party think this is ok.

After all, didn't "God" tell them to LIE?

I think they can't tell the difference between Satan and God, personally.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 12, 2007 1:38 PM

The issue isn't whether or not I have a problem with this--it's whether or not Rossi or Edwards is breaking the law. Edwards seems to have been advancing a specific cause with an eye towards using his personal prominence as an asset for that cause. Rossi's organization, in contrast, seems to have no specific purpose and to deal with no issue other than keeping Rossi himself in the news. What has Forward Washington accomplished other than jetting Dino around the state for public appearances? To me, that doesn't seem as relevant of a public issue as the issue of poverty which Edwards has helped keep in the public eye.

Posted by lorax | July 12, 2007 1:54 PM

@4 - look out your fucking window! Poverty doesn't "need to be kept in the public eye." Edwards AND Rossi are guilty of the same cynical ploy to keep their names in front of people. The stupidly named "Idea Bank" is just a different kind of ruse - the kind of ruse that appeals to the red meat GOP in the same way that saving the children, or ending poverty appeals to soft-hearted lefties.

Posted by get real | July 12, 2007 2:02 PM

my, get real, you are really into self-referential, or should I say, self-reverential, mode.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 12, 2007 2:39 PM

@2 - are you confusing Rossi and McGavik? I think you are referring to McGaviks 28 million$ retirement from Safeco, right? Or did Rossi come from safeco too? Is it a republican politician factory over there?

Posted by longball | July 12, 2007 3:02 PM

@5 - yeah, my goof - dammit - making mistakes is so pre 9/11.

Posted by get real | July 12, 2007 4:29 PM

@6 - good point, it's hard to tell one Lying Stealing Red Bushie from another - they all hate America just as much.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 12, 2007 5:33 PM

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