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John Ladenburg drops out of Attorney General race, will instead run for state Supreme Court

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on June 29, 2011 at 11:08 am with 23 Comments »
June 29, 2011 4:38 pm

He hasn’t seemed all that excited about the attorney general race lately and this must be why.

While he had filed with the Public Disclosure Commission and said he was thinking about a campaign he has made twice before, former Pierce County Prosecutor John Ladenburg said he will shift instead to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court candidate John Ladenburg (campaign photo)

He did not say which seat on the court he might pursue but a spokesman said he would not file against anincumbent and expects there to be vacancies next year. At least one will be the seat now held by Justice Gerry Alexander who must retire this year when he reached the age of 75. Gov. Chris Gregoire can appoint a replacement but that person would have to run in 2012.

The other two justices with terms expiring next year are Tom Chambers and Susan Owens.

The attorney general’s office will be open next year because incumbent Rob McKenna will instead run for governor. The two announced candidates to replace him are two members of the King County Council, Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson. McKenna ran for the office while on the King County council as well.

Here’s the press release sent out this morning:


John Ladenburg Announces Campaign for Supreme Court

Ladenburg shuts down Attorney General exploratory committee

Tacoma—John Ladenburg, former 14 year Pierce County Prosecutor and 8 year Pierce County Executive, announced today that he is forming a campaign for Supreme Court this week.

“After talking to hundreds of lawyers around the state many of them encouraged me to run for Supreme Court because of my broad experience in law,” Ladenburg stated. “With multiple vacancies expected in 2012 on the Supreme Court it is important to have experienced attorneys on the bench – I bring over three decades of law experience as an attorney who has been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and a civil trial attorney.”

Ladenburg had to choose to run for either Supreme Court or Attorney General.

“I spent months deliberating but I feel confident in my decision,” Ladenburg said. “The Supreme Court needs candidates with broad experience in law. While I have experience in public policy that would benefit an Attorney General, my passion is in the law and the Supreme Court needs experienced attorneys as it goes through expected big transitions.”

As Pierce County Prosecutor for fourteen years, Ladenburg was tough on crime. He created nationally recognized programs cracking down on drug dealers and gang members, co-founded the Safe Streets neighborhood watch program, and helped create the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center to help domestic violence victims. Ladenburg has trial experience in both civil and criminal cases and is one of less than five lawyers in the State to try a death penalty case as a defense attorney and as a prosecutor.

Ladenburg is a champion for children. He wrote the nation’s first law forcing sex predators to register on a public list after being released from jail. He also wrote another law preventing sex predators deemed too dangerous for the public to be kept in jail instead of being released to hurt more children.

Ladenburg ran unsuccessfully in 2008 against Rob McKenna. He currently works with his sons in the “Ladenburg Law” law firm in Tacoma and also is the managing partner of a governmental affairs consulting firm. Ladenburg does not plan on challenging any current incumbent.

Leave a comment Comments → 23
  1. pumaintacoma says:

    Thanks for getting us riled Peter

    claims “helped create the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center to help domestic violence victims.”

    Really? As I recall this was what the Judson Family did, not Ladenburg.

    Didn’t John also push for Sheriff French to get 30 days on his yacht for kiddy porn? Some defender of children.

    No John, retire or go golfing.

  2. “Ladenburg had to choose to run for either Supreme Court or Attorney General”

    I’m not so sure. I came up with three alternatives to public employment:

    1. Retire
    2. Continue in private practice
    3. Volunteer

  3. mattersnot1 says:

    I don’t think so!
    You have to know something about the law to qualify for the Bench.

  4. JeffTacoma says:

    Puma: nice try at a smear. Ladenburg was not prosecutor when French was arrested…. and he did get money to do the center, ask anyone there.

  5. A small sampling of reasons NOT to support JL for any elected (or even appointed) office can be found at http://LifeInPierceCounty.com .

    Not yet included in the list is the gross over-exaggeration of the claim that “Ladenburg…wrote the nation’s first law forcing sex predators to register on a public list after being released from jail.” That’s his nature, though, to claim credit for things he didn’t do, and to blame others for things he did do that turned out “bad” for Pierce County.

    Several years ago, after posting similar information on the web, a JL supporter, or for all I know it was JL himself, tried to claim that I was a disgruntled person whom JL “must have prosecuted” in the past. Not true. In fact, I have no angst against him, but rather, I’m doing what I can to remind voters of his track record, which, even in short-form list, should be cause for alarm.

    Stacy Emerson

  6. Cascadia development? Ladenburg links? Prometha? If his public policy decisions as Pierce County Executive were so driven by the interests of big money ignoring the interests of the citizenry he served…how can anyone expect a different result? That fact combined with questionable ethics on his own part…how can the people of the State of Washington trust him to represent their issues when it comes to the Washington Supreme Court? They simply cannot! My advice to the voters of the State of Washington is to avoid electing Pierce County politicians at all! The ghosts of Greco and Janovich still echos in the halls of County government and not much has changed. Of course in those days the newspaper was a guardian of the people not a mouthpiece for the Pierce County propaganda machine!

  7. I read Stacys post on Life in Pierce County and have to agree with Stacys position on Ladenberg.My position on John is He should move to another State where his so called achievents are not known.His track record is all too well known in Pierce County and from where I can see, his failures are his only sucesses.

  8. tacomajoe says:


  9. Pecksbadboy says:

    Please, just retire from life, hopefully in another state and take your family with you.

  10. nonstopjoe says:

    He needs to find a public trough where he’s welcome – that’s why he keeps grazing from one potential job to another. He ought to become a “greeter” at Chambers Bay Golf Course (for out-of-county hi-rollers).

  11. Tacoma_Bourne says:

    I love the comment smears from 4-5 misinformed people. It is the traveling road show on every Ladenburg post.

    Stacy, you really need to take down your Ladenburg website. I don’t think you mean to lie but it is severely misleading and inaccurate information.

    Ladenburg has over 35 years of legal experience. Ladenburg has been a leader in our community and yes he did create a golf course paid for by golfers that will bring millions to Pierce County. Not exactly sure why people still bring it up after we nailed the US Open.

    Ladenburg was asked to help try to save Cascadia from bankruptcy. It was one of the biggest parts of our economic development plans in the county. It was bankrupt when he started.

    It is like the 3 of you have a john ladenburg google alert and you spend your days doing rapid response. Nobody reads these comments, calm down.

  12. If Bourn is serious about Ladenburg Links bringing Millions to Pierce County,where is the proof?From what I have been reading, after all expenses have been met,there is still money owed.That is like making 100,000 dollars and going in debt 300,000 dollars and then bragging about making 100,000dollars and ignoring the 300,000 debt.I would love to see a comprehensive cost ands profit statement about this boondogle.I am afraid all we will see is a lot of covering up of any true facts.

  13. tacomajoe says:

    Bourne – what are you, his mother?

    You’re completely out to lunch on Chambers Bay. It has been in the red since it opened, and the only group that will be in the black after the US Open is the USGA.

    It’s like you have a John Ladenburg Google alert and you spend your days doing rapid response when folks point out what an awful job he did as county executive.

  14. pumaintacoma says:

    Bourne says: It was bankrupt when he started.

    In 2009 John Said

    “We’re not bankrupt,” said John Ladenburg, Cascadia’s chief operating officer and former Pierce County executive. ”

  15. Tacoma_Bourne says:

    It was going through chapter 11. It was under bankruptcy protection. The process had started.

    It was in its last desperate hour. John was asked to try to save it. In its darkest hour they asked John to take over. I don’t think you can pass a giggle test saying he bankrupted it.

    And Chamber’s Bay is a success. That fight is over. Go walk on the beach, go look at the projections of hosting a US Open. The numbers reported in the red are because of improvements they are adding in preparation for the US Open. They will more than make up for it and it adds to the value of the course anyway.

  16. Tacoma_Bourne says:

    P.S. The US Open is like hosting 4 super bowls. It will bring roughly $150 million.

    You can complain about 100k or 200k for improvements if you would like. But it is an economic development tool.

  17. Thanks Tacoma_Bourne for the laughs…please continue to have fun with your brand of spin doctoring.. maybe then John might have a chance to win something. The Pierce County voters have shown their understanding of Johnny L when he couldn’t even carry his own County on the last 2 AG attempts.

  18. “Stacy, you really need to take down your Ladenburg website. I don’t think you mean to lie but it is severely misleading and inaccurate information.” – Tacoma_Bourne

    I look forward to reading your counter claims to the items in the list, one by one, but doubt you’ll offer them. In fact, I’d be happy to meet with you for a discussion about them, but doubt you’d do that either, as you’d lose the anonymity you hide behind.

    Stacy Emerson

  19. Tacoma_Bourne says:

    >> failure to insure that Planning & Land Services (PALS) identified ALL critical/sensitive land and removed ALL from the buildable lands map (as per GMA).
    All PALS work on identifying critical land and wetlands was approved by the Growth Board. Ladenburg passed the first Critical Areas Ordinance in the State, which was used as a model by King County.

    >> failure to insure departments fully enforce the code, such as the dire issue of the majority of Pierce County’s wetlands being destroyed yet the violators have not/are not made to undo the damage they cause, nor fined. Instead, they were, and still are, issued permits to allow them to finish their developments.
    Again, this is without basis or example. Pierce County’s wetlands ordinances were updated and enhanced several times under Ladenburg, who also began a concentrated effort to prevent construction in the flood plains, only to be stopped by the County Council.

    >> failure to insure responsible departments complied with NPDES requirements, leaving Pierce County taxpayers at risk of paying the $10,000 (per day) fines which the state can rightfully impose.
    Wrong. Ladenburg asked the County Council for rate increases to fully fund work to comply with the new Federal NPDES requirements (National Pollution Discharge permits for sewers and treatment plants). The County Council refused to pass the rates even after threat of fines. Ladenburg’s public works staff found a way to implement most of the requirements without revenue and avoid any fines. After Ladenburg left the Council approved the rates.

    >> failure to insure that PALS and Public Works imposed allowable fines for violations of sign code, leaving communities blanketed with illegal, off-premise signs by the thousands–the majority of which belong to the development and real-estate industries. The Council did their part, he never did his.
    The Council never gave Ladenburg the staff or authority to do this. After Ladenburg left, the Council granted the authority and enforcement begin. Within months, the Council backed off due to outcry from the housing industry.

    >> failure to recognize the need for Charter changes, demonstrated by the fact that he wrote or co-wrote the statements against seven of the nine 2006 Charter Amendments–repeatedly saying “The current system has served us well for 25 years”. If this were true, how is it that 21 elected commissions concluded the amendments should be put on the ballot (which The People passed all but two of the amendments as a result)?
    Ladenburg did oppose the changes, but he was right. The biggest change was the change to ranked choice voting, which was the one Ladenburg was most outspoken about. That change resulted in the election of Dale Washam, who has proven to be incompetent and will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits. A recall of Washam is now underway. The citizens repealed the ranked choice voting the next year.

    >> failure to address and correct the issue of Pierce County’s CrimeWarp (coined by Prosecutor Gerry Horne) which led to a disproportionate number of violent felons being exported to Pierce County for decades.
    It was Ladenburg who began this fight. He personal stood on the bridge at Steilacoom and defied the Governor and State attempting to enlarge McNeil Island prison. Horne, Ladenburg’s deputy continued the fight and endorsed Ladenburg.

    >> failure to properly support the Sheriff’s Department during his reign, which, while ranking a matched 2nd lowest in the state for LEO-to-citizen ratio, had the responsibility of manning the #1 most violent crime county in the state. Thanks to the passing of Charter Amendment 1 (one which he and the TNT opposed), The People’s vote freed the Sheriff from the Executive, making him/her answerable to The People he/she serves.
    Wrong. Ladenburg actually increase funding for the Department every single year in office. He increased the number of deputies even in the budgeting cutting years of the 2001-3. Sheriff Pastor acknowledges that Ladenburg’s leadership help the Department grow as best it could, given revenue issues.

    >> He not only failed to disclose his stock ownership in Prometa, but at the same time, authorized funding for AND lobbied for even more public funding to support Prometa, earning his second slap on the wrist from the PDC. The first slap was a result of him committing one of the two “biggest violations in the commission’s 30-year history” (PDC quote from a TNT article) when he used public money to pay to create and distribute biased campaign material on Proposition 1 (More Cops Now campaign). He claims that he was “not found guilty”, rather than admitting the truth which is that he was indeed guilty, though got off on a technicality.

    Ladenburg purchased less than $2000 worth of Prometa after the State had approved funding. He sold his shares at a loss before the Council decided to not continue local funding. There was no PDC slap on the wrist. State law allows “de minimus” holdings of companies that do business with the government; it just has to be disclosed, which this was. Otherwise, Microsoft could never sell anything to local governments. This is a manufactured and phony issue.

    On the More Cops Now campaign, Ladenburg asked the PDC to review a mailing the County wanted to send. The PDC refused to do so, even though it had in the past. Ladenburg then modeled the mailing after one the PDC approved in the past. (more than eight years earlier) When a complaint was filed, Ladenburg showed the PDC their prior approval and the compliant cancelled. No complaint ever filed against Ladenburg was ever even given a hearing, let alone any finding of wrongdoing.

    >> The NW Detention Center in downtown Tacoma was allowed to be built and opened during both Mr. and Mrs. Ladenburg’s reigns, even though both were well aware of the fact that the facility was being built atop an EPA Superfund site (see http://tinyurl.com/9opyv6) —and, without-permits, and without the knowledge or oversight of EPA or DOE, contractors drilled and augured through the contamination “cap” in preparation of a 545-bed expansion project (see http://tinyurl.com/af86ba), releasing known cancer-causing carcinogens (visible to the naked eye via bio swells).

    Ladenburg spoke against the Center being built, but had no authority over it. Mrs. Ladenburg spoke against it and voted against it.

    >> Ladenburg, as he was terming-out as Pierce County Executive, crafted a 27-year, near two-billion dollar solid-waste contract with private, for-profit landfill owners/operators ( see http://tinyurl.com/almjtn). As reported by The News Tribune, Mr. Ladenburg financially benefited from this “deal” (see http://tinyurl.com/bt897s). In addition to this, Ladenburg overstepped his authority by drafting and sending an eminent domain threat letter to members of a community adjacent to the landfill.

    The solid waste contract is seen as a model for the State. It has increased recycling, composting and reduced the amount of waste going into the landfill, significantly increasing its lifespan. Further, it required the completion of a methane collection system, converting that methane into fuel for the trucks hauling waste. Soon, the waste collection trucks in Pierce County will all run on natural gas made at the landfill from waste methane, a first in the State.

    >> The Washington State Native Plant Society, who fought hard to protect ecologically-sensitive lands and habitat from Ladenburg’s proposed development, said in their Fall 2007 newsletter (The Acorn, page 7 – see http://tinyurl.com/an8793): “Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, unwilling to accept our success, threatened to resign from his position of Sound Transit board chair, and veto the entire roads and transit package if cross-base was not included. Executive Ladenburg is a skilled, tenacious, and stubborn politician. By the time it came to a final vote at the RTID Planning Committee meeting on June 8th, it was apparent that the political will was gone, and potentially our victory.”

    This refers to the first Roads and Transit package. After the package details had been agree to, Council Member Shawn Bunney from Lake Tapps area cut a deal to delete the Cross Base Highway and divert the money to expanding and widening highways 161 and 162 in the Puyallup Valley. These were outside the growth boundary and would have led to expanded growth in the flood plain. Bunney also supported expanding the growth boundaries of Orting, Sumner and Puyallup in the flood plain, which Ladenburg had fought against. The Cross Base Highway is in the growth boundary and leads to the rocky land of Parkland Spanaway, where growth should be directed and to the industrial sites at Fredrickson. Ladenburg had fought to change the design of the Highway upon his election to make it environmentally sensitive. Thereafter, the Cross Base Highway was voted a “Highway of Statewide Significance” by the Legislature and supported by virtually every elected official in Pierce County. The Cross Base had been through more than 15 years of environmental review and had already had its final environmental approval by the Federal authorities and given approval for construction.

    Ladenburg fought to prevent this switch in funds and protect the Puyallup Valley from more growth. He predicted that if the highway was not built, the industrial and warehouse growth would eat up valuable farmland in Fife, Sumner and Puyallup. He has been proven 100% right, with each of those cities turning more land into warehouses and industry each year since. The latest being the destruction of several hundred acres adjacent to Puyallup.

  20. Copper2Steel says:

    Regardless of how we feel about John Ladenburg, readers should question any blogger who doesn’t know how to properly distinguish between the words “insure,” “ensure” and “assure.”

  21. Tacoma-Bourne – your version of the events differs from others who are close to him, and who have tried to defend him on these issues. Perhaps someday you’ll all get your stories straight.

    Copper2Steel – thanks for pointing out my incorrect use of a word, which I have corrected, but FYI, I am not a blogger, and my website is not a blog.

  22. dster420 says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Ladenburg Links was built with TAXPAYER’S money, that was siphoned off of the waste water or sewage money…Please, correct me if I’m wrong…

  23. I’m not sure who funded the project.

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