During the congressional debate between incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican James Watkins last week Inslee made the case there in the American Legion Hall on Bainbridge Island that he had sponsored the bill that renamed the post office in Rolling Bay after John “Bud” Hawk.
Watkins criticized Inslee for not being at the actual dedication. Inslee asked if that wasn’t a low blow, given that he was fulfilling his constitutional duty voting in D.C. Watkins said no it wasn’t a low blow, that if he, Watkins, had passed that bill, he “damn sure would have been there when they were dedicating it, too.”
Later, Watkins posted a press release saying that Inslee at the debate was “exposed as a liar,” because the same day as the post office dedication, Inslee was in Seattle speaking to “corporate CEOs.” On Factcheckjayinslee.com, Watkins’ campaign wrote, “What a dishonor to Bud Hawk!”
Several blogs have taken the information and called Inslee a liar for his comments. I’ve had people e-mailing and calling me on the phone asking about it.
Inslee did come to Seattle that same day to speak to the Prosperity Partnership, which does have “corporate CEOs” as members, probably many of them. On the organization’s board are an official from Boeing, Microsoft and Uwajimaya.
On that board there is also someone from the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO, the University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Community Colleges, the mayor of Everett and the YWCA. Additionally, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, four members of Congress and Washington’s two senators, Dick’s Drive-In, El Centro de la Raza, Kitsap County and the Group Health Community Foundation count themselves as a small portion of organizations listed as partners.
The group focuses on economic development for the region.
In addition to the press release, Watkins’ campaign published a video on YouTube with Inslee and Watkins going back and forth on the Hawk dedication. Both appear below.
In writing the House story this weekend, I noted that Inslee said he was voting, that he had spoken to the Prosperity Partnership that day. That was true. I did not write, as Watkins did, that Inslee was lying, because I was allowing for the idea that Inslee either didn’t recall what he was doing, or that voting had actually gotten in the way. I didn’t watch the Prosperity Partnership video of Inslee speaking at the luncheon until Tuesday.
What Inslee said at the debate sounded like during the Bud Hawk event he was on the floor voting in D.C., which was not true. It was true, however, that voting the night before went late enough that he would have missed his scheduled flight home. Had he made that flight, he would have had time to attend the Bud Hawk event, then get on a ferry to get to the Prosperity Partnership luncheon. So, the message that voting got in the way of him attending the Hawk ceremony was correct and not a lie.
Joby Shimomura with Inslee’s campaign said voting the day before, Feb. 25, went later than expected. The last vote was taken at 7:46 p.m. and congressional records show Inslee voted. The last flights out of Ronald Reagan or Dulles to Seattle leave around 5:30 p.m. Inslee was too late for those, so he boarded a flight the next morning that got into Seattle around 11 a.m. The Bud Hawk event started at 10 a.m. “For Watkins to suggest that Jay lied about that is incredibly infuriating,” Shimomura said.
The luncheon was, surprisingly enough, at lunchtime. Inslee made the lunch, not the dedication. If you watch the Prosperity Partnership video, it is clear that he flew into Seattle that morning. Inslee makes specific reference to the weather flying in. “I saw this fog and cloud bank,” he said.
For his part, Hawk said he wasn’t bothered by Inslee not being there. “People do what they can. If they can’t be there they can’t . . . I’d like to have shared the occasion with him, (but) it didn’t bother me,” he said.
Watkins, hearing Inslee’s explanation, ceded no ground. He said there are red-eye flights from DC to Los Angeles that can get someone to Seattle earlier than when Inslee arrived. “He could have been there had he wanted to, but he chose not to,” Watkins said. “He chose other things instead of going to the ceremony for Bud Hawk.”
Assuming the planes were not full on Feb. 25, Inslee could have flown to Atlanta, then caught a flight to Seattle and arrived early in the morning, spending the night in airports and on planes. Chances are it also would have cost more to make that kind of change in plans. Since I am not the regular traveler I once was, I don’t know. If it does cost more, it comes out of the congressman’s travel allowance, provided by you and me in our taxes.
Instead, Shimomura said, Inslee called Hawk the day before to let him know it was unlikely he would make it, and that Hawk was fine with it. I asked Hawk, a World War II hero, but he didn’t recall too many details about the event, blaming it on age. He’s 86. “I’ve got my name written down here somewhere,” he joked. Someone somewhere threw postponement into the conversation, but invitations had been sent, Shimomura said.
Besides, “This whole thing was about Bud Hawk, not Jay Inslee,” Shimomura said. “He (Hawk) should be bothered that James Watkins is using it as a political issue.”
In Inslee’s official statement, he said much the same:
“When I called Bud to tell him that I couldn’t be there he appreciated that I got this bill passed to honor him. What I don’t appreciate is anyone using this war hero to prop up their failed campaign. I couldn’t attend the opening because of votes and I was on a plane during the event, not at a lunch. The event was about Bud Hawk, not Jay Inslee or James Watkins.”
On Tuesday I received an e-mail that read in part: “If you will review the tapes of the night that were posted on Watkins’ website and forwarded to me, Inslee lied to the crowd. If the facts are born out he was at a luncheon with Mullaly and some others in Seattle at the time of the dedication. I have no problem with him not being there but I do have a real problem with his moral outrage when, if the facts are correct, he lied outright.”
Later I was out stalking neighborhoods for campaign signs when I received a call from the 425 area code. A nice man identified himself as a Watkins volunteer and wanted to address the “lie.” I told him what I knew to that point about late voting, etc. From my impression he still believes that Inslee was “exposed as a liar.”
Recently I have heard people say that this is the worst election season ever for peddling bull and negative ads. I typically don’t believe it anytime someone says something is the worst or best ever, but this time I wonder. The Murray-Rossi ads, the initiative commercials and the stuff we get in the mail all seem to have at least been designed to take kernels of truth and distort them so that we will believe something that is not certifiably true. I have to admit; this election season has made me wearier than I can ever recall.
If you use truth to get me to believe a lie, it’s a lie, and you’re a liar. If you know what you are saying is not true, then you are a liar. If you don’t know, then maybe you’re just wrong. Maybe you are careless, but you are not a liar. If what you are saying is true, you are not a liar, even if I misinterpret what you said.
Inslee and Watkins debated important issues that night: health care, job creation, deficit spending and energy. They have real differences on those issues. Inslee has a voting record and Watkins has made his priorities clear. Their opinions and their actions could have a real impact on you and me.
So given the fact that the candidates are clearly different on the big issues, who are the people who would vote differently based on what was said about the Bud Hawk ceremony? Was anyone leaning toward Inslee, but now will vote for Watkins, because you are so disgusted by Inslee’s inartful explanation for missing it? On the other side, is there anyone who was leaning toward Watkins, but is now disgusted by how he has played up this issue?
The Watkins press release and the video follows.
Watkins’ press release on the debate statement.
Jay Inslee Caught in a Cover-up During Debate with Watkins
By Christy, on Oct 21, 2010
LYNNWOOD—Jay Inslee, 14-year Congressman and potential candidate for governor in 2012, was exposed as a liar in his debate Monday with challenger James Watkins.
Inslee missed a ceremony to rename a post office for local Medal of Honor recipient Bud Hawk, but it wasn’t because Inslee was in DC voting as he claimed. He was in fact at a luncheon with corporate CEOs in Seattle.
The issue arose when Inslee focused on his efforts to pass the bill in honor of Hawk in his opening remarks. Watkins, who attended the renaming ceremony, announced that Inslee wasn’t even there.
Calling the allegation “outrageous,” Inslee proclaimed he was in Washington DC, “voting [and] fulfilling my constitutional duty.”
The record shows Inslee wasn’t in Washington DC at all – he missed 6 roll call votes. It turns out that during Bud Hawk’s ceremony, Inslee chose to have lunch in Seattle with corporate CEO’s.
“This is what Inslee says with loyal supporters in the same room. It alarms me to think what he does 2500 miles away in the back rooms of Washington, DC,” says Watkins. “1st District voters want and deserve a transparent government and real leadership.”
James Watkins is the only candidate who helped cut spending at the federal level while working at the FDIC, and he has helped create thousands of private sector jobs in all fifty states. For more information, visit www.WatkinsForCongress.com.
The following is the video Watkins posted. The commenting function was disabled on YouTube.