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Friday, April 4, 2008

Undercover Operative: Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands

posted by on April 4 at 12:43 PM

A public records request by Preserve our Islands, the community group that’s been fighting Glacier Northwest’s strip-mining on Maury Island, reveals that the Republican State Commissioner of Public Lands is doing opposition research for the mining industry.

Email correspondence between land commissioner Doug Sutherland and Bruce Chattin, the executive director of Washington Aggregate & Concrete Association—the group that lobbies on behalf of mining companies like Glacier—shows that a week after Chattin hung out with Sutherland at a Glacier NW fundraiser for Sutherland that raised $18,000, Chattin sent a detailed outline of the Concrete Association’s agenda that he wanted Sutherland’s department to put into play.

Of interest to me, however, is Sutherland’s brief response. He doesn’t pledge to enact Chattin’s agenda, but he does say this: “I understand there is some talk about legislative action regarding Maury Island. you may want to run your ground wires.”

What we have here is the Commissioner of Public Lands doing a bit of intel for the business lobby—tipping them off to legislation they’re going to have to gear up for and fight against.

Indeed, legislation to halt strip-mining on Maury was proposed (and killed) last session.

The interesting question to me is this: Who tipped Sutherland off to legislation that was brewing in the House Democratic caucus? I mean, it couldn’t have been a Democrat, could it? And certainly, it couldn’t have been Democratic House leadership.

Here’s my suggestion to Preserve Our Islands for their next public records request. Never mind emails between Sutherland and the Concrete Association. How about checking emails between Sutherland and House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp?

RSS icon Comments


Can't we sue him and use the fine to pay Congressman Jim McDermott's fine?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2008 1:01 PM

Sutherland serves his masters well. And I don't mean the public.

Posted by laterite | April 4, 2008 1:42 PM

what does the phrase "run your ground wires" mean?

Posted by lol | April 4, 2008 1:51 PM

Couldn't be Frank Chopp. He was busy with his pals at BIAW trying to kill the homeowners Bill of Rights. This was before, of course, the BIAW's assertion that environmentalists are nazis. `Cuz I'm sure Frank would have distanced himself from the organization had he know they'd offend all the wealthy environmentalists who happen to be Jewish and help fund so many Dem House races around the state. Right, Josh? Right?

Could you ask him, just to clarify?

Posted by Bluneck | April 4, 2008 2:07 PM

I'm shaking my head in befuddlement about how a post that started out doing its readers such a service -- reinforcing what many of us had known -- that Sutherland is in bed with the land rapers -- could turn into such a whining continuation of Josh's petulant little snit against the Speaker.

Thanks for the post, Josh, except for the last two paragraphs, which only tell your readers that you're too lazy to do your job completely. There are plenty of pro-Glacier Democrats in the House who could have tipped off Sutherland, and there is no evidence beyond your pathetic little innuendo that the Speaker is one of them.

But Sutherland must go. And we have a chance to support a real fighting Democrat, Peter Goldmark, for Land Commissioner. Peter's campaign kickoff is this coming Monday at 5 PM at the Sculpture Park on the waterfront. It's only $35 a pop.

Posted by ivan | April 4, 2008 2:11 PM

well, you could ask for speaker chopp's emails but under the law he doesn't have to give them to you...the state legislature conveniently exempts itself from the public disclosure act.

Posted by toobad | April 4, 2008 2:16 PM

Sutherland's a phony moderate. He's selling out to big mining interests just like any Republican would.

Posted by J.R. | April 4, 2008 4:50 PM

What a surprise that Sutherland is in the pocket of mining and timber He gathers money from Glacier's lobbyists (The gano family and the durkan family & their mining friends) like collecting lollipops.

As far as the Speaker -- doesn't his "right hand" --Kessler -- hate the enviro community??? Let's stop defending Chopp and ask why Democrats in the House are allowing her to rule???

Finally, where is the Governor??? Puget Sound Partnership, protecting shorelines -- where is she? Is her relationship with the durkan family more important than Maury??? Probably, since one of them is her attorney and two of them represent the multinational mining operation.

Let's get rid of Sutherland and tell the Gov and House Dem. Leadership that they are accountable.

Thanks, Josh, for another piece of good work.

Posted by EnviroDem | April 4, 2008 5:45 PM

At least with the democrates you know who's doing who. With the republicans you're never sure, and I think Dougie is doing more than his share.

Posted by MCC | April 4, 2008 7:21 PM

Let's get rid of Sutherland! Looking at what the democratic majority in the state leg FAILED to do this year, it is clear some of them are dems in name only. Let's id those folks and get someone in their place who deserves the democratic name. If we had folks who would walk the talk on enviro issues instead of these pretend dems, we could stop the big corporate interests and people like Frank Chopp and the gov wouldn't want to be chums with them any more.

Posted by mamabear | April 5, 2008 9:57 AM

I can't believe you think Sutherland mentioning potential legislation is a big deal. THERE'S ALWAYS A BILL ABOUT MAURY. Big news tip for you, I betcha next session there's going to be a bill about Maury Island. But don't say you heard it from me.

Posted by Ed the Head | April 5, 2008 8:37 PM

Something is seriously wrong when a public official, paid with OUR taxes, is working for the interests of big business. Those of us who are activists must work our day job and fight these corrupt politicians on our time off.

Posted by Ethel | April 6, 2008 11:32 AM

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