Kent City Councilwoman Brenda Fincher says she was “shocked” to see a campaign mailer to write her in for a legislative House District 47 seat in Olympia.
Fincher posted a response Oct. 23 on her Facebook page to a mailer received this week by House District 47 voters about the Nov. 6 race between Debra Entenman, D-Kent, and incumbent Mark Hargrove, R-Covington.
“As many of you know, I’m a very strong supporter of Debra Entenman,” Fincher said. “Today, I was shocked to see this deceitful mailer that used my image without my knowledge to siphon off Democratic votes in the 47th LD. This is yet another voter suppression tactic.
Let me be clear: I support Debra Entenman and urge you to vote for her.
I do NOT want you to write my name or anyone else’s name. I don’t even live in that legislative district! I enjoy serving the residents of Kent on the City Council and do not want to be a member of the Legislature. No progressives or Democrats had anything to do with that mailer. In fact, it appears to be paid for and sent by conservatives. The purpose of this mailer is to trick people, take away votes from Debra and invalidate your vote. We can’t afford to let that happen.
Debra is the best choice for the residents of Kent and the 47th LD. She’s an ally that I look forward to working with when she’s in the Legislature.
Evidently the people behind this absurd mailer know they can’t win by telling the truth, so they’ve resorted to these lies and dirty tricks. Don’t fall for it.
If your vote wasn’t critically important, they wouldn’t be working so hard to suppress it. Vote for Debra. Urge your friends, family and neighbors to vote for Debra. Share and spread the word about this. Let’s show everyone that we don’t stand for these tactics here in Kent and South King County.”
Entenman, on her Facebook page, thanked Fincher for the message she posted about the mailer.
The mailer is similar to those sent recently in legislative Districts 6, 19 and 26. All were initiated by Glen Morgan, a Tenino resident in Thurston County who runs the website WetheGoverned.com, and encourages residents to write in progressive candidates.
Fuse Washington, the state’s largest progressive organization, filed a complaint Oct. 22 with the state Public Disclosure Commission against Morgan, “for lying to voters about the groups’ support for progressive candidates.” The group said Morgan is misleading voters in support of fake write-in campaigns.
“This is a new low for Washington,” said Aaron Ostrom, Fuse’s executive director. “Republicans have become addicted to bald-faced lying and shameless deception, and it has to stop. Since 2008, Fuse has invested an enormous amount in making our Progressive Voters Guide a trusted and credible source of voting information for hundreds of thousands of voters each year. Republican Glen Morgan’s dirty tricks not only seek to confuse voters and hurt Democratic candidates, but also aim to undermine the credibility of our guide.”
Fuse claims that Morgan falsely implied the endorsements of the groups on the mailer, which is illegal under state law. In addition, the complaint by Fuse claims how Morgan’s attacks harmed the Democratic candidates on the ballot, harmed the organizations listed on the mailer and harmed the reputations of the supposed write-in candidates.
Morgan is behind two Political Action Committees that are paying for the mailers: Conscience of the Progressives and Send A Message.
Morgan said during a Oct. 25 phone interview that he sent the mailer simply to give voters more options than the two candidates on the ballot – and someone who is a progressive candidate. He strongly disagreed with Fincher and others calling it a voter suppression tactic.
“I’ve written in people all the time,” he said. “I’m giving people another option. I encourage people to vote. …It’s the furthest thing from voter suppression. That’s not accurate and not even in the ballpark.”
Morgan didn’t have any concerns about Fincher not living in District 47, which covers parts of Kent’s East Hill, Auburn and Covington. Fincher lives on Kent’s West Hill.
“I’ve never seen an auditor enforce the residency requirement,” Morgan said. “It doesn’t mean she can’t move. And she’s not that far off (from the district), she’s pretty close. And it’s not a restriction for a write-in candidate.”
Morgan encourages voters to write in candidates to let the Democratic and Republican parties know people want more options.
“The political parties want to put us in a box,” he said.
Morgan said he never contacted Fincher about the mailer because that could potentially be illegal under campaign laws as he paid for the flyers as an independent expenditure.
“She’s a more viable progressive candidate,” Morgan said. “She’s a much better choice, although some say she’s not that progressive.”
On his WetheGoverned.com website, Morgan wrote a long article about the Democratic Party critics of his campaign mailers, including this comment:
“In the last week, millions of dollars have been spent on thousands of mailers that are all sent out just before the ballots drop in the mail. Most of them are garbage and get tossed in the mail seconds after the voters receive them. Many of them are stupid, wasteful attack ads and negative campaigning. I felt that I would stay above the fray and merely point out that real Progressives don’t have to plug their nose and vote for the crappy candidates offered by the Democratic Party. They can send a real message and write in a better option who would represent their values far more effectively.”
Morgan’s Conscience of the Progressives committee has raised $21,270 so far and spent $13,818, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Send A Message is the top contributor at $21,125. The major donation to Send A Message is $10,000 from Peter Zieve, of Mukilteo, who is president of Electroimpact, a major supplier to Boeing and Airbus. Zieve contributed $1 million in 2016 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to opensecrets.org.