Congratulations to newly elected Washington State Republican Party chair Susan Hutchison for finally coming out of the closet and openly embracing her partisanship. But whether she can embrace partisanship as bluntly as her Democratic counterpart, Dwight Pelz, I sincerely doubt.
In an email thread making its way through Democratic Party circles, Pelz responds to an email about the Freedom Foundation's anti-union activities, by replying that "Brian Sontagg works for this union busting outfit." Which is true. Sonntag, the former "Democratic" State Auditor, recently took a position as the right-wing Freedom Foundation's "senior fellow for government accountability."
But Sonntag took umbrage at Pelz for questioning his Democratic/labor credentials, defensively responding to the long list of party and union stalwarts:
For 40 years in public service, the last 20 as Washington State Auditor, I've always advocated for open, accountable, and transparent government. That is what I'm continuing to do by working with citizens as well as local elected officials. Making sure government officials are exercising good stewardship over the public's money is essential for government to be able to provide needed services
No one can legitimately question my support of organized labor in this state. To do so is just plain wrong.
Even though I am no longer in public office, I will always be a strong advocate for prevailing wage laws, working men and women and responsible, open government.
A claim that of course opened the door to Pelz's very blunt reply:
Brian, I will legitimately question your support for organized labor.
By joining the staff of the Freedom Foundation you have chosen to attach your name to its Right Wing, Union Busting agenda. In addition to attempting to pass right to work legislation in Washington, the Freedom Foundation has a long track record of attacking unions.
WASHINGTON, DC—Today the United States Supreme Court announced it has overturned the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling in Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA). The cases are the culmination of a decade’s worth of work by concerned teachers and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), a Washington state think tank. The Court's ruling could potentially affect millions of union-represented workers nationwide.
"We are elated that the U.S. Supreme Court has honored the First Amendment rights of teachers by overturning the state Supreme Court’s decision," said Bob Williams, president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. “The Court understood that the constitutional rights of teachers should be protected and are not superseded by the union’s statutory rights. This ruling will help protect non-member teachers from having their agency fees used on union politics against their will."
Brian, as Chair of Democrats for McKenna you directly challenged Washington’s labor movement by backing a Republican Attorney General with a record of opposing collective bargaining and increases in the minimum wage. McKenna as much as promised to balance the budget on the back of state employees, and was very clear in his intention to continue the Freedom Foundation’s war on the Washington Education Association. You backed McKenna despite his gratuitous and failed lawsuit to deny working families access to a doctor under Obamacare.
Brian, if you are a fan of transparency it is time to acknowledge that you are a moderate Republican now working for a Far Right think tank. As Auditor you worked for Tim Eyman in attacking state and local government. Today you work for Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers – your new job is to bring Washington in line with Wisconsin and Texas and North Carolina as another state that adopts the ALEC agenda.
The lone act of integrity available to you is to simply pay your dues to the Republican Party.
It's moments like this when I really love Pelz. Sure, he can be an asshole. But he's our asshole.
As for Sonntag, I know the editorial boards love him, but I say good riddance! The "D" next to his name on the ballot, and his support for a long list of conservative programs and candidates, had long given Republicans the cover to paste the "bipartisan" label atop their otherwise partisan agenda. No more. Indeed, Sonntag's association with the Freedom Foundation is no less a public admission of his true ideological leanings than the once insistently nonpartisan Hutchison's election to Republican Party chair is a proclamation of hers.