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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.