News Hard GOP Partisans Power Rossi’s “Non-Partisan” Non-Profit
posted by July 12 at 12:12 PMon
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.
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?