Beverly Woods was the subject in these
critical 2006 campaign ads created by Moxie Media. The picture
comes from the company's Web site.
In 2006 voters in the 23rd Legislative District received mailers
asking the question, “Beverly Woods went to Olympia and what did we
get?” Woods, a Republican, was first elected to the seat in 2000,
beat Democrat Sherry Appleton by 4 percentage points in 2002 and in
2004 she won handily over a candidate who did not campaign with
In 2006, though, she faced off against Democrat Christine
Rolfes, a former Bainbridge Island city councilwoman. Rolfes ended
up winning by 9 percentage points. A blog post just weeks after the
election at the conservative site Sound Politics had in its comment string a
conversation blaming Woods’ loss on her vote for a gas tax. Many
people have said to me the same thing, that Woods lost her base
when she voted for that tax.
However she lost, the mailer is the issue here, because it was
created by a firm that finds itself in hot water with the
Washington State Attorney General, Rob McKenna. Moxie Media is
being sued by McKenna for the company’s under-the-radar efforts to
oust a conservative Democrat in the 38th District in 2010. It’s the
under-the-radar part that could get them in trouble, because the
company allegedly created political action committees to
temporarily hide the liberal money (labor, trial lawyers, etc.)
that was pitching a conservative Republican who was not running a
strong race. The effort helped put the incumbent, state Sen. Jean
Berkey, in third place, virtually guaranteeing victory in November
for Democrat Nick Harper, who as of Tuesday had received nearly 60
percent of the vote.
Moxie is not the only organization to run afoul of Public
Disclosure laws in recent history. The Olympian’s Brad Shannon wrote, “The
action against Moxie comes in the same season that the
Republican-oriented Building Industry Association of Washington
settled charges of concealing funds it later used to promote Dino
Rossi’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign.”
The Washington State Wire has an explanation of what went on
with Moxie and Berkey, explaining the money gets hidden.
Moxie Media’s anti-Bev Woods piece is one of several the company
highlights in a portfolio on its Web
Of the campaign the company writes, “After many failed attempts
by other Democratic campaigns to define State Representative
Beverly Woods as too conservative for her district, Moxie Media
ultimately helped defeat the three-term incumbent. We developed a
series of five mail pieces that positioned Woods as ineffective and
out-of-touch, helping to elect our client, State Representative
Christine Rolfes, who has held the seat since 2006.”
The work Moxie did for Rolfes was pretty straightforward. Sure,
some of it in 2006 was negative advertising, but there do not
appear to be any obvious efforts to hide who was behind the ads. A
search of Public Disclosure Records show that over three campaigns
Rolfes has spent $61,625 for Moxie Media’s help.
Rolfes said the recent news does have her considering who she
will employ in the future. “I had never seen them do anything that
wasn’t above board. I’m disappointed to see how that company worked
in another race,” she said.
Moxie’s work has showed up in other local races. In 2006 the
company promoted Kyle Taylor Lucas, who tried to best state Sen.
Tim Sheldon for the Democratic nomination for senator in the 35th
District. The company was paid more than $50,000 from three
different PACs, all of which had “Have Had Enough” in the name.
In 2006 the Harry Truman Fund, which supports Democrats, spent
about $17,000 for ads against Republican Ron Boehme, who ran
against Larry Seaquist in the 26th District.
In late October Bremerton Republican Trent England wrote on the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s
Liberty Live blog, “I happen to know that Moxie works
for my own State Senator Derek Kilmer, who pretends to be a
Berkey-style moderate, but somehow still gets props from the far
left (draw your own conclusions about who is the real Derek Kilmer:
the one familiar to his Moxie pals, or the one he presents to
voters in his swing district?).”
It is true that Moxie shows more than $200,000 in receipts for
Kilmer’s campaign between 2004 and 2006. There were none, however,
Kilmer said he worked with John Wyble, who co-founded Moxie,
but left in 2008 and formed
his own firm, WinPower Strategies.
Kilmer took issue of England’s use of the word “works.” “Once
again Trent England hasn’t done his homework,” Kilmer said, adding
that the ads he pays for do not mention his opponents. “The way I
approach campaigns is like a job interview. “I’ve never gone into a
job interview and said ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire the other
guy,’” he said.
Democrats generally have condemned what is alleged to have been
done in the 38th. Berkey, for her part, is asking that the
Legislature not seat Harper, saying the election was tainted,
according to a (Everett) Herald story.
Rolfes, who did work with Lisa MacLean, the Moxie founder named
in the Attorney General’s suit,
said she hopes the discovery of what happened with Moxie is
evidence that the system worked. “The whole point of the Public
Disclosure Commission is to allow a forum for catching these kind
of indiscretions and unethical and possibly illegal acts,” she