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Ethics board clears McCune

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 24, 2010 at 10:25 am with No Comments »
March 24, 2010 11:10 am

Even though it’s an election year, legislators are free to rile up their constituents at public expense without breaking the law.

That’s why the Legislative Ethics Board has cleared Rep. Jim McCune of an allegation that he misused public resources with his newsletter.

The e-mail the Graham Republican sent Feb. 13 sounds like a pretty typical Olympia call to action. Titled, “TAX INCREASE ALERT – Help Stop Senate Bill 6130,” it opposed the Democrats’ ultimately successful attempt to suspend voter-approved Initiative 960 that made it harder to raise taxes. It asked constituents to oppose the bill at a public hearing.

A recipient apparently saw the e-mail as a veiled campaign advertisement, and filed a complaint.

The ethics board ruled Tuesday in McCune’s favor, citing the law limiting pre-election mail that allows sending newsletters throughout the election-year legislative session (and for a month afterward) to constituents who have requested them. The recipient of McCune’s e-mail had signed up for the e-mails, the board said.

Further, the board said:

The tone and tenor of the update was permissable.  This requirement is directed at debate which is respectful and does not impugn the character of a legislative colleague or other elected official.

UPDATE: McCune says a member of a state employee union filed the complaint with the ethics board because she didn’t like the position he took in the e-mail. “Anybody can file anything you want,” he said. “You can call and say, ‘I don’t like Jim McCune.'”

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