Jim Merritt’s campaign is fuming over an apparently illegal direct-mail political advertisement that showed up in the mailboxes of Northeast Tacoma homes today.
“This is one of the rottenest hit pieces I’ve ever seen,” said Merritt campaign manager Ronnie Bush.
I just got off the phone with Marilyn Strickland, who said she knew nothing about the ad and that it didn’t come from her campaign.
The mailer claims that because Merritt has already publicly stated his position against a controversial housing development planned for the North Shore golf course, he won’t be able to cast a vote on the issue if he’s elected.
“If Jim Merritt is Mayor, the developer will challenge his `objectivity’ and Mr. Merritt will be removed from the hearing,” the mailer states. “He’ll lose his voice, and his vote.
“Why? Because Mr. Merritt keeps stating his opinion, and so he’ll be considered `prejudiced’ when the Council hears the case.”
The ad cites the “appearance of fairness doctrine” as the governing law on the issue. The law precludes members of decision-making bodies from publicly staking a position on land use decisions before such issues are officially considered.
The development, which has been challenged by a citizens’ group representing hundreds or Northeast Tacoma residents, is now before a city hearing examiner. Ultimately, the hearing examiner’s decision will go before the city council.
Bush claims that she’s checked with an attorney, who has told her that the mailer’s claims are false — Merritt could vote on the issue. A relevant part of state law appears to back up her claim (as does Strickland herself).
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