Inside Opinion

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Tag: Robin Farris


The right of recall wins – too late to remove Washam

This editorial will run in Tuesday’s print edition.

Lost in the din on election day was a sweet little moral victory for the people who tried unsuccessfully to recall Dale Washam last year.

One of the many mini-dramas in the recall attempt was the way the Public Disclosure Commission stomped on the signature-gathering campaign before it even got started.

Robin Farris, who led the effort to unseat Pierce County’s extravagantly inept assessor-treasurer, had been getting pro bono legal assistance from two public-spirited Tacoma attorneys, Tom Oldfield and Jeff Helsdon.

Washington law allow recalls only on very narrow grounds; Oldfield and Helsdon helped Farris steer the petition through all the legal obstacles – Washam fighting all the way – until it finally won approval from the Washington Supreme Court.

The PDC, however, held that recall petitions were the legal equivalent of political campaigns rather than initiatives. Individual contributions to candidates are capped at $800 – a limit that doesn’t apply to ballot measures as constitutionally protected political expression.
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The job of removing Washam is far from over

Dale Washam

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Dale Washam is not done for, not yet

While the campaign to recall Washam marked an important milestone last week, Pierce County citizens still have a ways to go to remove the disastrously incompetent assessor-treasurer from office.

Recall backers have pulled off an impressive feat, no question. Not only did they clear the hurdles erected by state law, knocking down a couple of obstacles along the way, they also met a bar for signature gathering that was, in this instance at least, more than twice as high as the one set for statewide initiatives.

Last Thursday, Puyallup resident Robin Farris, the leader of the recall effort, submitted signatures equal to 16 percent of the county electorate. By comparison, Tim Eyman has to convince only 7 percent of Washington voters to sign his petitions to qualify an initiative for the ballot. Read more »


A key victory for Washingtonians’ right to recall

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The First Amendment and common sense prevailed Friday when the campaign to recall Dale Washam was freed from an arbitrary and crippling funding limit.

Washam has proven himself unfit for the office of Pierce County assessor-treasurer since he was elected in 2008. He has persecuted subordinates – incurring enormous legal claims against the county – and has used his position to pursue an obsessive vendetta against his predecessor.

His behavior has triggered four independent investigations, all of which found misconduct on his part. Washam must be removed before he causes more harm to the taxpayers and the department he supposedly runs.

But until Friday, the recall campaign led by Robin Farris of Puyallup had been hampered by an $800 state limit on individual donations that applies not only to cash contributions but also to volunteer professional services.

The state Public Disclosure Commission has fined Farris for accepting $20,000 worth of donated legal help from two public-spirited lawyers. The $800 ceiling on donations has also prevented her campaign from deploying enough petition-gatherers to cover the geographic immensity of Pierce County.
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Right of recall shouldn’t be limited to the wealthy

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

When retired Navy officer Robin Farris launched a recall campaign against Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam last October, little did the political neophyte realize that state law essentially handcuffs someone like her.

She’s not allowed to accept donations of more than $800 per person. And there’s no such thing as pro bono legal work; any legal help she might get is considered an in-kind contribution and subject to the $800 limit.

Farris found that out after a Tacoma law firm, Oldfield & Helsdon, volunteered many hours to help her. The state Public Disclosure Commission punished Farris with a $250 fine but did not force her to repay the law firm more than $21,000 worth of donated time.
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Open the throttle on the Washam recall campaign

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Thanks to the Washington Supreme Court, Pierce County is now only 65,500 signatures and one election away from recalling its disastrously incompetent assessor-treasurer, Dale Washam.

The court on Thursday unanimously approved the recall petition filed by Robin Farris of Puyallup, which Washam had attempted to tie up in a court challenge characteristically obsessed with minutiae.

The right to recall elected officials is embedded in the state constitution; it would be a meaningless right if targeted officeholders were permitted to delay and obstruct legitimate efforts to unseat them. The speed with which the justices rendered their judgment shows they understand that a recall delayed can quickly turn into a recall denied.

The petition against Washam is as well-grounded and necessary as the state has seen in decades. He’s been a one-man wrecking ball since the day he took office and began pursuing an obsessive, vindictive and foolish campaign to put his predecessor, Ken Madsen, in prison.
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