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Tag: Doug Richards


Political Smell Test: False claim that $3 billion in waste was ignored

Deficits in Olympia and Washington, D.C. pose monumental challenges to whoever is in charge next year. Politicians have ideas for how to reduce the deficits, but some of them don’t add up. This is the second claim I’m looking at.

WHAT CANDIDATES SAY: A number of Republican candidates for the Legislature are citing State Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Democrat, in making the case that the Democrat-controlled Legislature failed to curb waste in state government.

They say Sonntag identified more than $3 billion worth of potential savings to state government in his audits, only to have the Legislature ignore his proposals.

At a candidate forum last week, 28th District House candidate Steve O’Ban said:

Brian Sonntag, a Democrat who I support because he’s doing his job well, has come out with $3 billion of savings for our state government, efficiencies, redundancies, not just in the ferry system but across the board, and virtually none of those have been adopted by the Legislature, even though the Legislature’s controlled by his party.

At another candidate forum months ago, 26th District Senate candidate Marty McClendon said: “When we were facing a $2.6 billion deficit, no other options were on the table except for raising taxes … Brian Sonntag found $3.8 billion worth of waste. (That) was not addressed.”

It’s an attractive talking point because it gives candidates an answer when asked where they would cut, without having to name specific programs.

In interviews, 26th District House candidate Doug Richards and 28th District candidate Paul Wagemann have both cited Sonntag. Richards said a projected deficit of $4.5 billion could be mostly solved by cutting “$3.2 billion” in waste and inefficiencies found by Sonntag: “That’s three-quarters of the problem right there.” Wagemann said Sonntag has issued more than 700 recommendations in his audits: “Our Legislature has virtually ignored these recommendations.”

THE FACTS: You can see all of Sonntag’s performance audits here. Their benefits do indeed add up to nearly $4 billion, and Sonntag highlighted the total in a December 2009 report that looks at the status of 705 recommendations:

From February 2007 through June 30, 2009, performance audits identified nearly $3.6 billion in cost savings, unnecessary expenditures and economic benefits.

The key phrase there is “economic benefits.” By far the largest savings, $3 billion, comes from a report he issued on reducing congestion in Puget Sound. It’s the amount that would be saved over five years — in economic impact to drivers and businesses.

In other words, it’s not savings to government. The recommendations don’t help state legislators balance their budgets.

The $3.6 billion number isn’t being described correctly, Sonntag said in an interview. “That captures a whole lot more than just what could be saved in a current state budget,” he said.

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Ship’s location leads to questions in 26th District race

I mentioned in a post yesterday that Doug Richards, whose campaign for state House is making his private life very public, is defending (among other things) his military record. Here’s more on that.

In his challenge to Democratic Rep. Larry Seaquist, a retired Navy officer who commanded a battleship, Richards has played up his own service in the Navy. There’s a picture of an aircraft carrier on his website and a one-sentence description of his service in his kickoff news release:

After high school he joined the Navy and served on board the USS Carl Vinson CVN-70 in the Persian Gulf.

That sentence, as Richards acknowledges, might leave a reader thinking he served in the Persian Gulf War. He didn’t.

He served earlier, in 1987-1989, as a group of current and former military officers note in a letter in the Peninsula Gateway this week that criticizes Richards and says his ship never entered the Persian Gulf.

On Richards’s behalf, another group of military men are defending his record, saying he served “in the Gulf Region” during peacetime. “I never claimed to be in the war,” Richards said in an interview.

So what’s the real story? The ship’s official history puts it next to, but not in, the Persian Gulf (calling it the “Arabian Gulf”):

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Legislative candidate Doug Richards divulges past conviction

Like most candidates, Doug Richards has a section on his campaign website devoted to personal information. But if you go to that section — just click on “Meet Doug” — you’ll notice it gets a lot more personal than most campaign bios.

Scroll past today’s defense of the Republican 26th Legislative District House candidate’s military record against claims he’s inflating it, and you’ll find a letter from Doug’s wife, Whitney Richards, with some information about his past:

First, 21 years ago at the age of 20, he was charged for a misdemeanor 4th degree assault for domestic violence while we were married. After reviewing the facts of the case, the Judge dismissed the charge and had the cause removed.

It’s not clear in the letter, but Richards said in an interview he pleaded guilty to the charge.

The judge agreed to a deferred disposition that would wipe his conviction from most records as long as Richards didn’t commit another crime. Richards wouldn’t explain the circumstances behind the charge, saying it would “reopen old wounds.”

Richards and his wife divorced around the same time, but he said that didn’t have anything to do with the domestic violence case. They later remarried. Whitney Richards says in her letter:

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Kitsap Sun: 26th District legislative candidate facing foreclosure

The Kitsap Sun has a report about Doug Richards and an investment property of his that is facing foreclosure.

Richards, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Larry Seaquist, bought the 4.77-acre property with his wife Whitney in 2004. He built a 5,633-square-foot, 5-bedroom home on the land at 9695 Banner Road SE in 2006, but the couple were unable to sell it before the recession took hold.

The bank, ING, gave notice that the property was to be sold at auction on July 9, but the sale was deferred, Richards said.

Richards is a Republican facing incumbent Democratic

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A House challenger in 26th, too

The candidate who announced his bid today for a Senate seat isn’t the only GOP challenger in the 26th District.

Doug Richards, a battalion chief at South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, is running for the House seat now held by Democratic Rep. Larry Seaquist.

The Olalla resident, 41, has a Facebook page up proclaiming his candidacy, where he writes: “This state and country need a new direction and new leadership.”

Richards has at least one thing in common with Seaquist: service in the Navy.