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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Saga in the 46th Continues

posted by on June 18 at 17:12 PM

The saga surrounding Scott White—a Democratic candidate for state legislature in North Seattle’s 46th District who got pneumonia, withdrew (or tried to withdraw), changed his mind, and got back in (or didn’t) again—continues.

Last night, White broke his long illness-related silence to tell his side of what had happened. According to White’s telling of events, after he was diagnosed with pneumonia and told he would not be able to doorbell for “a couple of months,” he decided to pull out of race “based solely on my health.” So at “the end of the day” last Thursday, June 12, he faxed a form to King County elections withdrawing from the race. However, the elections office didn’t receive the form until 4:35—after the deadline for candidates to withdraw their names from the primary election. “Not only did I fax it after the deadline, but they received it after the deadline,” White said.

Here’s where it gets weird(er): The fax White sent in includes a time stamp of 1:29 pm—three hours before King County Elections officials say they received it, and not the “end of the day,” when White says he sent it. However, a fax log provided by King County elections shows the fax coming in at 3:35—actually 4:35, elections spokewoman Megan Coppersmith says, because the fax machine was never adjusted for Daylight Savings Time. White says the machine he used had a faulty time stamp (I’ve got a call in to his office to find out), but his opponent Gerry Pollet disputes this, arguing that the 1:30 time stamp speaks for itself.

In any case, elections spokeswoman Megan Coppersmith says her office believes White is “absolutely” still in the race. In an email, a spokesman for the Washington Secretary of State’s office confirmed that his office, too, considers White still in the running. In White’s words, “As far as Iím concerned, this is an administrative matter. I am a candidate in this race, Iíve been told that Iím a candidate in this race by King County Elections, and I’m totally confident about this race.”

But those statements are hotly contested by White’s opponent Pollet, who has said that if his opponent “wants to stay on the ballot, heíll have to go get a lawyer.” Pollet has filed several records requests seeking to find out whether any withdrawals filed after White’s were accepted (King County received at least four other candidate withdrawals from the August primary) and exactly what time White actually sent in the withdrawal form.

In another twist, White sent the form from an office at King County (White works in the county’s facilities management division, which answers to King County Executive Ron Sims)—a violation of the county’s ethics code, which bars both personal use of county equipment and using county equipment for campaign purposes. Although White notes that he paid the executive’s office $1.50 to send the fax, a spokeswoman for Sims, Natasha Jones, says that doesn’t excuse sending a campaign document from a public fax machine. “You’re not supposed to use county resources for campaign work, and thatís very clear and were very diligent about it,” Jones said. Had they known what White was doing, she says, “we would have told him you need to go somewhere else.” Ironically, the office arrived at the $1.50 figure by looking up the fee charged the nearest copy shop—which just happens to be on the ground floor of the county building.

Pollet compares the whole thing to a “circus.” When I pointed out that it was a circus largely of his making (because of the way he has relentlessly tried to draw attention to it)óand over a $1.50 charge and a campaign he had assumed would include White until White tried to pull outóhe replied, “[White] definitely withdrew his candidacy on Thursday before any deadline.” As for the $1.50 fax, he says, “Itís not about whether or not you pay for it. Itís illegal to use a county fax machine for private use.”

One other thing that remains unresolved is how White came to be listed on King County Elections’ web site as “withdrawn.” Coppersmith says she doesn’t know who made that notation, but says it was an “error. Our web site is a working web site and it wasnít final until Tuesday (June 17), when all of the information was listed and stated as official,” she says.

It’s unclear how this whole drama will end. King County and the state consider White to be in the race; Pollet seems determined to do all he can to get White out of it. If both opponents stay in, it’s going to be a long campaign—assuming both candidates make it through the August “top two” primary (a safe bet in the solidly Democratic 46th), they’re going to be running against each other until November.

RSS icon Comments

1

Here's your answer: disqualify both of them. Gross incompetents, both of them.

I do however believe the timestamp is bad. The vast majority of them are. I wouldn't trust any timestamp on a fax.

Posted by Fnarf | June 18, 2008 7:43 PM
2

While White's illness is unfortunate, I doubt his health and attempt to withdraw will be the deciding issue in this race. There are still 5 months until the general election--plenty of time to learn more about both White and Pollet.

Posted by 46th Voter | June 18, 2008 7:54 PM
3

BS alarm ringing -- the candidate tried to withdraw, but claims the time stamp is wrong on his "I withdraw" fax, by three hours or so.
Uh-huh. "Aw shucks we're the elections office, where we accept all kinds of important forms on deadline by fax, and you see, it's normal for us to have the wrong time entered on our fax machines, and for them to be off by three hours, even though it counts whether something is filed by 4:30 pm or not. so you see, we just sit here disregarding the wrong time stamp cuz we know about it and so everything coming in on that fax machine has the wrong time stamped on it."

"Trust us, we're the same government as this guy works for right upstairs so no hanky panky here!"

Uh-huh.

And who'd really wait so incompetently to file the form at around 4:30 knowing it's close of business on deadline day?

By fax when he could walk it downstairs?

His story is "trust me, I'm grossly incompetent in filing my form so don't believe that time stamp."

Uh-huh.

Posted by Fibber McGhee | June 18, 2008 8:32 PM
4

And people wonder whether an elected auditor should be approved by the voters. Let's see here: Sims fax. Sims elections office. Sims appointee Scott White. All appear to be either grossly incompetent, conspiring and covering up, or some combination thereof.

No one appears to have explained how 1:29 at Sims office becomes 4:35pm at the Elections office. Maybe they like to go home early, so set their clocks ahead. No one explains why the county accepted the withdrawal, posted it on the web page, then accepted a withdrawal of the withdrawal!

Does anyone believe an elected auditor would tolerate such monkey business? No way.

Finally, what arrogance on Mr. White's part - blantantly violating the law using county resources. And whether it was 1:30 or 4:30, the taxpayers paid his salary to do all of this. He should be fired or resign immediately. As to paying the $1.50 back (apparently at Sims' office request), that's like the thief who gets caught stealing - giving back the stolen property after getting caught -- it doesn't resolve the problem and get the thief off the hook.

And this guy wants to be elected to the state legislature to write and pass laws?!?! Really? Really unbelievable.

Posted by suspicious | June 18, 2008 10:50 PM
5

I hate to give aid and comfort to the enemy (ie - the ongoing Republican jihad against Ron Sims and King County Elections), but this all does seem to be pretty suspect - as does what I read about the vote count at the 46th that seemed, um, irregular at best.

At the very least, there is a major league appearance of impropriety here, along with actual violations of the County ethics code (though not a firing offense).


Posted by Mr. X | June 18, 2008 11:55 PM
6

I suspect Fibber McGhee, Mr X and suspicious are all the same person .

Axe grinding par excellance

Posted by Long Time Listener First Time Caller | June 19, 2008 12:13 PM
7

@ 6

You are so right. Don't you just wish we could trace all Slog posts back to their exact source and see who they are via an online camera? In this case, it is pretty obvious that only the opposing candidate or a member of his team would possibly care enough to take the time to write multi-paragraph posts regurgitating the same story.

Someday we will have the technology and Stranger policies that require visual IDs of all who post!!!

Posted by LOL | June 19, 2008 1:25 PM

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