By request, here is the copy of Doug Richards’ DD-214 form. I covered his Social Security number. This was referenced in the story from the debate between Richards, an Olalla Republican, and state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor.
A Gig Harbor teacher announced she is running for the Legislature in the 26th District and will challenge Jan Angel for her seat. Karin Ashabraner, a Democrat who teaches U.S. History to 8th graders, made the announcement Wednesday.
The Position Two race is expected to be a rematch between Larry Seaquist, the Democratic incumbent, and Doug Richards, a South Kitsap fire captain.
Ashabraner’s press release follows.
Note: My apologies to both Doug Richards and Larry Seaquist. The headline on an earlier version of this blog post was inaccurate (see above).
Doug Richards, a battalion chief with South Kitsap Fire and
Rescue, announced Thursday he will run in 2012 for the 26th
Legislative District seat held by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig
Richards, an Olalla resident, ran against Seaquist in 2010, earning 47 percent of the vote to Seaquist’s 53 percent.
“I was honored to receive so much support and help during the last election cycle that saw us come within 2,400 votes of a victory,” Richards said.
He vowed to be a strong advocate for jobs, education and fiscal discipline.
Seaquist, now in his third term,
has not indicated his intentions for
the 2012 election announced in January he will run for
The 26th District takes in parts of north Pierce County, including Gig Harbor, and south-central Kitsap County, including Port Orchard and parts of Bremerton. Other legislators representing the district are Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, and Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.
From the start of the 2010 campaign season, Doug Richards, candidate for 26th District Representative, position 2, has been a lightning rod for questions about his public and private life.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of his viability as a candidate. His opponent Larry Seaquist, in a recent interview, said, “The first day we got his name and looked at his bio, we said to our campaign team, this is the most serious opponent we’ve had.”
The questions about Richards have not emanated directly from Seaquist or his campaign, but inevitably, they reflected on the campaign. And Seaquist has had to answer prying questions from the opposing camp.
With just a week to go until the election, I thought I’d take a whack at sifting assertions from fact. I’m going to give Richards a chance to address more recent questions surrounding his campaign filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission, his voting record and tax payment history. Speaking of taxes, I’ll also give his Seaquist a chance to more fully explain a federal tax lien filed against him Jan. 21, 2009, with the Pierce County auditor.
Questions about Richards’ voting record were raised in campaign fliers produced by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee and in a related television ad.
The TV ad, which I haven’t seen, was described to me by a co-worker and by Richards himself. The ad and the flier claim Richards has failed to vote in 41 of the last 55 elections, including “7 local fire, rescue and medical or 911 measures (even though he is a firefighter himself!).”
The flier and the ad show a picture of Richards in a suit and pink bow tie, holding a cigar. The picture, Richards told me, is from his Facebook. It was taken at the opening of a friend’s cigar shop in Seattle, he said. And if you could see the big picture, you’d see him with his wife dressed up in 1930s-style garb, which was part of the fun at the event. The impression the cropped picture gives, however, is of a shady character.
On the voting record issue, Richards said that, yes, when he was
younger he voted only in presidential elections.
“I don’t remember if I voted for every election and off-year elections. I did vote in every presidential campaign,” he said. “I was in my 20s. It wasn’t at the top of my priorities.”
That changed, Richards said, when he became a small business owner in 2000, building and selling custom homes. Then, he said, “I recognized how every vote counted.” And he became more politically active.
Richards said he does not remember every levy issue he did or did not vote on. If he had known he’d be running for public office, he would have kept a list, he joked.
The flier indicates he missed votes on tax- and budget-related measures, including I-960 in November, 2007, requiring a legislative super-majority to raise taxes.
Although the ad and flier don’t come directly from Seaquist’s campaign, Richards said, they show to what degree Seaquist is running scared. “To try to say this is a character issue is a stretch,” Richards said. “As best this is a campaign that’s struggling, that’s grasping at straws.”
According to Richards, the TV ad also claims he has failed to pay his taxes. True, he missed a payment in 2009. But the story behind the claim is a lot less sensational, he said. With the recession, Richards lost an investment property to foreclosure. Since taxes on the property were taken out of monthly payments to the bank, Richards’ account fell into arrears while he and the bank were negotiating on possible remedies to the foreclosure. He received notice in April that the bank had not paid the tax, and he wrote a check to cover it himself. The foreclosure eventually went through, and he lost the property. The experience helps him sympathize with voters who have faced similar challenges with the recession, he said.
Speaking of taxes, Richards added, “I think it’s hypocritical he (Seaquist) attacks me on taxes, considering he failed to pay his taxes for three years.”
Neither Seaquist nor his campaign made the back tax allegations, but by their very design, attack ads corral the opponent of the attacked and make them part of the process. So, Richards’ statement is perhaps understandable, if technically incorrect.
The assertion that Seaquist “failed to pay taxes” for three years makes it sound like he blew off the IRS entirely. In fact, what happened was in 2005, he had an overpayment of about $2,400, which he advised his tax accountant to apply to 2006 taxes. Due to a bookkeeping error, the amount was not properly credited. The error was not discovered by the IRS until 2008, by which time penalties and interest brought the amount owing to $23,532.83. How could this be? Believe it, said Jackie Chowning, the revenue officer who handled the Seaquist lien.
Chowning, speaking in general and not about Seaquist’s case, said errors often take considerable time to be caught by the automated behemoth that is the IRS. In Seaquist’s case, the notice of federal tax lien (not a lien on his home as I mistakenly reported in an earlier story) was filed Jan. 21, 2009. That would be where the “three years” in arrears apparently comes from (2006, when the payment was due to 2009, when the lien was filed).
Seaquist found out about the lien, he said, when his wife
checked a savings account they had and found the IRS had withdrawn
a sizable amount. From Chowning, he found out that the IRS had
placed holds on several other accounts. In October, the IRS
acknowledged the $2,400 had been applied to his account, adding it
could take up to 120 days for the credit to show up on his account.
The lien was cleared
couple paid the outstanding amount and cleared the lien in
The PDC complaint about Richards came to the Kitsap Sun from George Robison of Gig Harbor, a Seaquist supporter who also was part of a group that questioned Richards’ service records. Robison did not identify himself as a Seaquist supporter to the Kitsap Sun or the PDC, with whom he raised the following issues, but his name was familiar from numerous e-mails, comments on stories and blogs, and a display ad the group ran in the Kitsap Sun about the service record issue.
Robison accused Richards of:
“1. Double booking of some expenses as a ‘loan’ and as an ‘in-kind contribution’ by Mr. Richards, leading to the appearance of the potential for being reimbursed twice, after having been repaid for an item that is still carried on the books as a loan. No credit entry has been made for any loan reimbursement even though some reimbursements match loans.
2. Reimbursement to Mr. Richards for many items forbidden by the PDC. This includes political conferences, trainings, memberships in the NRA and Chamber of Commerce, charitable gifts, entertainment and personal food and fuel. In the amended C4 for 9/1, about 56 food and fuel expense items totaled about $1997 or about 25% of total campaign expenditures for that period alone. On some reports he was reimbursed over $150 per day for fuel.
3. Overall, a large number of campaign expenses were reported as ‘repayments’ made directly to Mr. Richards. This raises the appearance of campaign funds being mingled with personal expenses.”
Doug Richards told me his wife Whitney, who is acting as his campaign treasurer, has been working with Chip Beatty, a filer assistance specialist with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, to be sure the campaign is in compliance with PDC rules and campaign finances laws.
Beatty, who spoke to Whitney Richards on Oct. 19 as a result of Robison’s e-mail, found some merit in one of Robison’s complaints regarding reimbursements for fuel. Whitney Richards had submitted fuel receipts. Beatty advised that did not accurately reflect personal driving as distinct from campaign-related driving. Beatty asked Richards to reimburse his campaign for the personal use. He was directed to keep a mileage log and have the campaign reimburse him for mileage in the future.
Beatty noted that since Oct. 19, the Richards’ have amended the filings in question. “It appears they were very proactive in making the changes I requested right away,” Beatty said.
Richards’ C3 form, documenting income to the campaign, shows $389.60 on Oct. 19 paid by Richards to the campaign “to refund fuel used for personal use.” There’s another refund on Oct. 25 for $188.
Beatty did say that Richards could have been more specific about items like food and beverages. But he said Richards’ requests for cost reimbursements for these items were not out of line. He advised Whitney Richards to be more descriptive. On a receipt for “wine,” for example, she should have stated what is was for (a primary night event). He also suggested that the word “repayment” be replaced with “reimbursement.”
Beatty had no issues with costs related to “political conferences, trainings, memberships in the NRA and Chamber of Commerce, charitable gifts, entertainment and personal food.” It is acceptable, under PDC rules, he said for candidates to join an organization and attend its meetings, likely paying for meals at these events, as part of the process of networking and seeking support.
Voters aren’t required to like or approve of all expenditures that are technically legal. But at least they can go to the PDC, as Robison did, and see for themselves how much was spent on what. And if, like Robison, they aren’t satisfied with the clarity of the reporting, they can contact the PDC and complain. The PDC has the authority to sanction a candidate and their website has this nifty little page where you can track the status of compliance cases. Apparently Richards’ bookkeeping errors did not rise to the level of egregiousness that would earn him a spot on the list.
Chris Henry, reporter
The race for state legislative House District 26, Position 2, helped provide context for an L.A. Times story that highlights a trend from this election. First, here’s the entire selection dedicated to the Larry Seaquist-Doug Richards race:
In Washington, State Rep. Larry Seaquist hasn’t focused on a foreclosure suffered by his homebuilder opponent.
“I frankly don’t think there’s a lot of mileage to be gained in that,” Seaquist said Thursday.
The story generally focuses on how a candidate’s financial struggles are not necessarily hurting them in the 2010 election. In fact, in some cases it is a sign that the candidate can relate. Again from the story:
In some cases, adversaries point to these problems as examples of poor judgment and highlight perceived ethical lapses. But experts say they would be wise to tread carefully in a time of widespread pain, because voter sympathy may weigh into election day decisions.
First off, homebuilder is not Richards’ day job, but let’s not quibble. In July Chris Henry wrote the story about Richards facing foreclosure on an investment property. The comments on the story are interesting and to some degree do reflect the point of the L.A. Times story.
In the August primary Seaquist and Richards were the only names on the ballot for the race. Seaquist received 51.6 percent of the vote to Richards’ 48.4.
Looking further, I checked the numbers from the 2008 election to see if we could learn anything from it to suggest how things might go in November. Seaquist actually gained three percentage points in 2008 between the primary and the general election, but you could dismiss that as the difference between what was going on in August 2008 compared to November 2008. Democrats gained percentage points in five of the seven legislative races that year. And in the two races they did not the losses were slight.
Speaking more broadly, the general election played out exactly as the primary did when it comes to final results in 2008. Six Democrats and one Republican won. The margins in this year’s primary were much narrower than they were in 2008, so the six wins Democrats saw in the eight races are not as safe in terms of predicting what happens in November. But still, how big a win do you need?
Fred Finn, first-term incumbent Democrat representative in the 35th District received 46.6 percent against two candidates, one a Republican (Linda Simpson) and one who identified himself (Glenn Gaither) as an independent conservative. Democrat Kathy Haigh, representing the other 35th District House seat, had less than a percentage point margin over Republican Dan Griffey. In 2008 Haigh’s total went up more than five percentage points between the primary and the general election and won by 23 percentage points.
If Republicans hope to turn around the 8-1 margin against them in the Legislature, it would appear this would be the year. As mentioned earlier, the margins are closer. On the other hand, there is no solid evidence to wager your house on any change at all from the Kitsap delegation. As much ground as Republicans seem to have made, it may not be enough come November to close the Kitsap legislative gap. A half-point win results in the same thing as a 20-point margin. The winner goes to Olympia.
Feel free to weigh in on the poll on the right.
This is a follow up to a post I made yesterday, giving more details on a candidate forum hosted Monday by the Leagues of Women Voters of Kitsap County. Yesterday, we heard from 35th District candidates. Today, we’ll hear more from contenders for 26th District seats.
Remember, the whole forum will be broadcast on BKAT at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m. Sept. 17, 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 7 p.m. Oct. 3. You can see video coverage of candidates in most races speaking to the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board at the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide Web page.
26th District Representative Position 2
Incumbent Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, responded to a question about Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed across the board cuts by describing a meeting he’d had in Seattle with government and health care representatives. The purpose of the meeting, he said, was to form a network of “hospitals, schools, faith-based organizations” and other community groups to fill in the ranks as the state reduces funding for childrens’ health care. This is the kind of approach that will be needed, Seaquist said, because legislators need to “downsize state government 20 percent.”
Seaquist then blasted fellow legislators for leaving the budget cut question up to the governor to decide. “The legislature should have gone back to work,” Seaquist said. “The legislature should have been down there. Her hands were tied.”
Doug Richards of Olalla, his Republican challenger, was not happy with the proposed across the board cuts. He said the legislature needs to look at “the big picture” and analyze why the state is operating in a deficit. He criticized what he described as Olympia’s dependence on federal stimulus funds and said leadership was lacking in the legislature. “When they were in session, they were basically playing Vegas, hoping the money will come in. … Politics as usual is not working down there. One time money is not sustainable. This has to change.”
On education funding, Seaquist said the state should implement a procedure similar to the BRAC commission, which evaluates Navy bases on their output and makes closures accordingly. Yes, schools need to be amply funded, Seaquist said, “but we’ve got to see output.”
Richards advocates giving local schools more control of state education funds. He advocates increased deregulation of schools.
26th District Representative Position 1
Incumbent Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, decried across the board cuts, saying, “I don’t believe that is the way you balance a budget.”
Angel said the legislature needs to define core services, and to demand more productivity and efficiency, starting with its own offices.
Angel referenced a study of state priorities done under former Gov. Gary Locke, but it’s “still sitting on a shelf in Olympia.”
“Some areas can’t take a massive hit,” said Angel, who is vocally opposed to unfunded mandates.
Sumner Schoenike, a Gig Harbor pediatrician and Democrat, also disagrees with the across-the-board approach, calling it an “abdication of duties.” “We are sent to Olympia to make difficult decisions, and that’s exactly what we must do,” he said. “We did not by chance end up in a budget deficit. This is a national issue, folks.”
Schoenike blamed much of the mess on “the profligate ways on Wall Street.”
He said legislators have to recognize they are dealing with an unprecedented situation and take a whole new approach.
The two candidates did not discuss health care at the forum, but on this topic, they are diametrically opposed. Schoenike is a strong supporter of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Angel said she is alarmed by the potential for unfunded mandates the act implies. Her quote, from a Kitsap Sun Editorial Board meeting, “Our citizens are totally irate about this. This is a system, which, when citizens say this was shoved down our throat, it is.”
26th District Senate
Incumbent Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and challenger Marty McClendon didn’t find a lot to disagree about at the forum.
On the issue of collective bargaining for state employees, McClendon said that union leaders representing state employees need to recognize the increased burden for health care costs incurred by private sector employees. Union leaders should negotiate in good faith to bring state employee health care contributions more in line with the private sector, McClendon said.
Kilmer said he could see both sides of the issue.
“I do not think we should balance the budget on the backs of our state employees,” he said. “On the flip side, I don’t think our employees should be exempt from budget cuts. … I would rather see a 5 percent pay cut than a 100 percent pay cut.”
Both touted their qualifications for the job.
Kilmer stood on his record of fighting for higher education and ferry service, and keeping tolls down on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, reprising his frequently cited self-assessment in this regard as a “pitbull.” He said he would continue his advocacy on behalf of small business (he opposed a B&O tax increase and helped pass a law reducing regulatory paperwork, he said). “We should reduce the cost of doing business,” said Kilmer, who works with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
McClendon is a real estate broker and small business owner with a background in health care. He was able to raise himself up by his bootstraps, but he doesn’t see similar opportunities for his own children, which is why he’s running for office. “I’m not a politician. … I’m a common sense kind of a guy,” he said.
Correction: Derek Kilmer works with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. The incorrect board was named in an earlier version of this post.
This evening, I’ll be covering a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Government Center, featuring candidates for house and senate races in the 26th and 35th Legislative Districts.
Post questions you’d like to ask the candidates, and I’ll see what I can do.
Visits the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide for video coverage of editorial board interviews with candidates in most of these races.
At today’s forum:
26th Legislative District:
Senate – Derek Kilmer & Marty McClendon
Rep. Pos. 1 – Jan Angel and Sumner Schoenike
Rep. Pos. 2 – Doug Richards and Larry Seaquist
35th Legislative District:
Senate – Tim Sheldon and Nancy Williams
Rep. Pos. 1 – Daniel Griffey and Kathy Haigh
Rep. Pos. 2 – Fred Finn and Linda Simpson
Later this evening, the Kitsap Sun will post a story about 26th Legislative District candidate Doug Richards’ rebuttal to critics of his campaign materials. As you may have already noticed, Richards is heading ’em off at the pass by having posted on July 14 disclosure of a domestic violence charge he incurred in 1989 in an incident involving his wife, Whitney. The charge was dismissed.
Richards’ service record has also come under question from another quarter. As part of my research, I asked him for a copy of his Navy discharge papers, which he willingly provided to me. I gave his opponent Larry Seaquist, a Navy veteran with a 32-year career, the same opportunity.
***The service documents have been removed temporarily to remove personal information that should not have been made public. They will be reposted Monday Aug. 9. ***
Aug. 12: The documents have been reposted below. Apologies for my tardiness. Chris Henry, reporter