Tag Archives: Jan Angel

Angel, Eyman not seeing eye-to-eye on this one

hpim4414It took a while, but we heard back from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, regarding an email blast Friday critical of her from initiative guru Tim Eyman.

This issue comes from a bill Angel cosponsored with two other Republicans and a Democrat. It passed 41-8 in the Senate earlier this month, with all three Kitsap senators voting in favor. All but one of the eight who voted “no” were Republicans. That’s seven Republicans voting, “no,” which means 18 favor the bill. The legislation is in the House now.

The bill would require that any initiative that the state budget office determines will either add more than $25 million in costs or cut more than $25 million in revenues to the state have the following statement added to the initiative title on the ballot, “The state budget office has determined that this proposal would have an unfunded net impact of [amount] on the state general fund. This means other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.”

Eyman said the emails reveal Angel’s true intent was to stop some initiatives from happening, naming possible voter actions authored by the Washington Education Association and the Service Employees International Union.

“This is extremely disturbing.  Having legislators plotting and scheming to ‘stop’ certain initiatives ‘from getting on the ballot’ is a gross abuse of power.  It doesn’t matter whether it is politicians conniving to block liberal initiatives or politicians scheming to undermine conservative initiatives,” Eyman wrote.

Angel responded by email saying, “I am a co-sponsor of this bipartisan bill  SB5715 which is a ‘transparency’ issue for the voter to help make a decision  when voting. It passed in a strong bipartisan fashion off the Senate floor with a vote of 41-8.  The ballot title would include a fiscal note only under certain circumstances and doesn’t affect the citizen initiative process at all.”

What follows is Eyman’s email blast to supporters and reporters, Angel’s response and video from Wednesday’s House hearing.

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Petro money in the Kitsap Caucus

Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times wrote a story detailing a disconnect in what oil and gas industry officials say publicly and how they’re responding to Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal. Industry officials say they support cap-and-trade, but they’re no fans of Inslee’s proposal or of what’s happening in California. When asked what kind of proposal they would favor, they don’t offer specifics.

Included with the story, however, is a chart that is useful, but illustrates how easy it is to make a false equation in politics. The chart shows that state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, has received more campaign money from oil and gas interests than all but one other legislative politician in the state. State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, comes in at No. 8 for donations she received for her 2013 campaign. Here is a list of the oil and gas industry contributions that went to Kitsap candidates in 2013 and 2014.

The easy accusation is to say that a legislator, once gifts are offered, is paid for. I won’t argue that money has no influence, but its bigger influence is in who gets elected, not in what the politician does once in office. To illustrate that point, let me ask you this question: If the oil and gas industry hadn’t contributed $13,700 to Tim Sheldon’s campaign, do you think he would then favor Inslee’s proposal? I seriously doubt it. If you doubt me, do you think that same amount of money would have influenced Irene Bowling’s vote?

I could give you new evidence about the impact of money and politics, but instead I’ll give one I’ve offered before.

More than years ago This American Life, addressed the issue. Andrea Seabrook asked Democrat Barney Frank if money influenced politics:

Barney Frank: People say, “Oh, it doesn’t have any effect on me.” Look, if that were the case, we would be the only human beings in the history of the world who, on a regular basis, took significant amounts of money from perfect strangers and made sure that it had no effect on our behavior. That is not human nature.

Andrea Seabrook: On the other hand, he says, there are things that influence a politician besides money.

Barney Frank: If the voters have a position, the votes will kick money’s rear end any time. I’ve never met a politician — I’ve been in the legislative bodies for 40 years now — who, choosing between a significant opinion in his or her district and a number of campaign contributors, doesn’t go with the district.

And I have had people tell me — and we talk honestly to each other, we don’t lie to each other very often. You don’t survive if you do. As chairman of a committee, I’d be lobbying for votes. I have had members say to me, Mr. Chairman, I love you. Barney, you’re right. But I can’t do that politically because I’ll get killed in my district. No one has ever said to me, I’m sorry, but I got a big contributor I can’t offend.

I’m not defending anyone here. I’m just suggesting that the oil and gas industry ponied up money for Tim Sheldon and Jan Angel because they knew Tim Sheldon and Jan Angel. I don’t think either has ever shown any sign of being a fence sitter on cap and trade.

Kitsap’s state senators assume leadership roles

All three of the Kitsap Caucus’ state senators will have leadership roles in the 2015 Legislature. Two of them are repeats, while Jan Angel takes on a new responsibility.

Jan Angel
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was elected Senate Majority Coalition Caucus vice chairwoman and named to the panel that selects committee leaders.
Angel, first elected to the Senate in 2013, was re-elected in November and will begin a four-term in January.
The caucus position puts Angel in place to be a liaison between coalition leadership and committee chairs and to lead caucus deliberations when the chairwoman, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, is not available. Angel also will be part of the effort to hire and fire coalition staff.
“I’m excited to get to work building on the bipartisan success we achieved as a caucus last year,” Angel said in a written statement issued by the coalition. “I have all the right tools to be a leader in this role with my previous experience leading committees and developing employees as a small-business owner and I am very grateful for the confidence of my Senate colleagues.”
The senator was also appointed to the Committee on Committees, which helps select which coalition senator goes on which committees.

Tim Sheldon
State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, retains his role as Senate president pro tem, even though Republicans have and outright majority now.
Sheldon, along with former state Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, began caucusing with the 23 Republicans in 2013, giving the GOP a de facto 25-24 majority known as the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. With the election of Angel later that year the coalition’s majority rose to 26-23.
Tom retired from the Senate, but Republicans won the major contested races and took actual control of the Senate 25-24. Sheldon said all along he would continue to caucus with Republicans, so the coalition remains intact. His reward is keeping the leadership position.
“This recognition I have received from my colleagues is a demonstration of the bipartisan ideals that have governed our coalition since Day One,” Sheldon said in a statement. “We always said our chief concerns were jobs, education and the budget, and not partisan politics.”

Christine Rolfes
State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, resumes her role as floor leader for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus. This is her second year in that job.
The floor leader is the party’s point person on parliamentary procedure and in facilitating floor debate on the Senate floor.
“I am honored to have been selected again by my colleagues to serve as their floor leader,” Rolfes said. “We are facing some significant challenges in 2015, but I look forward to working across the aisle to ensure things run smoothly.”

ALEC returns as a campaign issue in the 26th

perryState Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, is getting heat from her opponent regarding Angel’s involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is something we addressed in the 2013 election, but since this treads into matters of substance, it’s worth revisiting.

ALEC is a nationwide organization that goes to great efforts to get conservative policies enacted in state legislatures. Angel is a conservative and has been affiliated with the organization for some time. She has never really denied that, but when she wrote the Facebook post you see pictured on the left here, she never let on that Rick Perry, Texas governor and one-time candidate for president who recalled two of the three agencies he planned to eliminate, was speaking at an ALEC conference when she snapped his picture and gushed, “what a champion!”

At its core the question that seems worth asking is whether Angel or Arbogast better represent the values of the 26th District, and Angel’s affiliation with ALEC could be evidence to support whatever conclusion you make. Instead much of the debate centers on whether legislators should be sponsoring what are called “model bills.” A model bill is one written in one place and used either verbatim or as a template in several states.

Some of ALEC’s model legislation would ban states from prohibiting insurance companies from using credit scores to deny or charge more for coverage, is tough on minimum wage standards, goes after Obamacare and would limit how much a state could require electric utilities to provide a certain percentage of its energy from clean energy sources.

Those are some examples. You can go to alec.org and alecexposed.org to get a bigger picture.

This issue arises from the following exchange that took place in the Oct. 7 Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues forum between Angel and Democrat Judy Arbogast.

Question: Can ALEC really write laws that best serve a state as diverse as Washington, and if yes, how?

Arbogast: Absolutely not. ALEC provides ready-made legislation for every state and that’s the biggest problem. It’s also backed by big corporations, not the people who are trying to actually solve the problems. People who know me know that I’ve been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I certainly know that it’s not good for the people. That’s why any bills that I propose will come from the people themselves, They will not be premade as some of the bills have been presented by my opponent.

Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC bill that I’m aware of, (And at this point you can hear people laughing at the statement) the only ALEC bill, seriously, the only ALEC bill that’s come to the Legislature actually came through your governor, Gov. Inslee, And I want to talk, I’m so glad this question came up, because ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission statement is free market and individual liberties. I am proud to stand for that. I make no apology and I actually question anyone that would question those values. As far as model legislation, we sit on task force, which I am proud to sit on Economic Development, Commerce and Insurance. That task force works on issues nationally. The last task force meeting I attended we worked on national catastrophes like the slide that we just had, how did that affect everybody ’s insurance premiums. Now if a model bill is written it is up to the legislature whether they take it back to their state. And if the state House and Senate pass it and the governor signs it, maybe it’s a good bill.

We’ll dissect those arguments later, but following the debate and after my story was written, Samara Ressler, campaign manager for Arbogast, sent me an email titled “Forum Clarification.” She then provided a list of three bills Angel co-sponsored Ressler said come from ALEC model bills. They are Senate Bills 6300 and 6307 during the 2014 session and House Bill 1804 in 2011.

SB 6300 would have required more unions to increase financial reporting requirements and does seem to have much the same language as ALEC’s model legislation, “Union Financial Responsibility Act.” SB 6307 prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting minimum wage requirements higher than the state’s. It is much the same as ALEC’s “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act.”

The House Bill 1804 in 2011 would have prevented the state from spending any money to implement Obamacare. At the time the justification was the health care reform measure was still making its way through constitutional challenges. Supporters said they didn’t want to burden the state with efforts for a program that could become moot. I don’t see ALEC’s direct fingerprint on this bill, but it’s old enough that it might have just disappeared from the organization’s website. And ALEC wrote a lot of legislation aimed at weakening health care reform, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility this started with ALEC.

This gets to the core issue. Whether the bill was an ALEC model or not, it would have limited the impact of federal health care reform efforts. What is the more important factor to you?

When we addressed this similar question in 2013, we pointed out that lots of organizations write model bills. ALEC might do it the most, but several organizations do it. Legislators don’t write many of the bills they propose. They are written by lobbyists, lawyers and others who have an interest. And I’m willing to bet that when legislators do write their own bills, they get lots of help.

This is not to say that finding out whether a bill is a model bill is unimportant. An organization like ALEC has a specific mission and won’t typically write legislation that doesn’t forward that mission.

So let’s break down the forum comments.

Arbogast: ALEC provides ready-made legislation for every state and that’s the biggest problem.

“Model” legislation is a “problem” in the sense that it could be trying to solve a problem no one was aware anyone had. Beyond that, though, you have to give the Legislature enough credit that it will tackle issues it deems important. If a model bill, tweaked to reflect what’s needed in legislative language in Washington, addresses an issue enough legislators think is worthy of attention, the bill can make it to the governor’s desk.

Arbogast: People who know me know that I’ve been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I certainly know that it’s not good for the people.

This is the values statement that would seem to be the more important issue.

Arbogast: That’s why any bills that I propose will come from the people themselves, They will not be premade as some of the bills have been presented by my opponent.
Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC bill that I’m aware of.

If Arbogast wins I suspect some on the right will watch the bills she sponsors to see if there’s anything else out there that’s similar to trace a bill at its roots. It might be a model bill from an organization on the left.
Angel’s claim that she never offered an ALEC bill rests on whether you think “offered” means she was the prime sponsor. We showed that she co-sponsored bills using ALEC bills as models, but she has not been prime.

Angel: The only ALEC bill that’s come to the Legislature actually came through your governor, Gov. Inslee.

We did address that claim last year and there is some dispute. The governor’s office said its bill dealing with one aspect of climate change did not come from an ALEC model, but a spokesman for the Washington Policy Center said that it did. Angel is off in saying the “only ALEC bill” unless what she meant by “come through to the Legislature” was “passed the Legislature.” Otherwise, her co-sponsorship of two ALEC-based bills seems to negate her statement.

Angel: ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission statement is free market and individual liberties. I am proud to stand for that. I make no apology and I actually question anyone that would question those values.

When Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Bershire Hathaway Energy, Intel, Bank of America, etc. decided to stop participating with ALEC I doubt any of them were troubled with the concept of free markets or individual liberties. Google’s Eric Schmidt was especially harsh answering a question from a caller to the Diane Rehm show:

Kristen: I’m curious to know if Google is still supporting ALEC, which is that fund lobbyist in D.C. that are funding climate change deniers.
Schmidt: We funded them as part of a political game for something unrelated. I think the consensus within the company was that that was sort of a mistake. And so we’re trying to not do that in the future.
Rehm: And how did you get involved with them in the first place? And were you then disappointed in what you saw?
Schmidt: Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts. What a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.

I’m guessing Angel would differ with Schmidt on that.

Angel Endorses Sheldon

State Sen. Jan Angel emailed a campaign letter urging voters to support state Sen. Tim Sheldon in his re-election bid. Angel is a 26th District Republican and Sheldon is a 35th District Democrat and yet this endorsement will be a surprise only to those who have not paid any attention to the Washington Legislature.

Sheldon supported Angel in her bid to unseat the appointed incumbent in the 26th District in 2013, Democrat Nathan Schlicher. The Potlatch state Senator/Mason County commissioner contributed $150 to the Angel 2013 campaign. Angel seems to be returning the favor

“… we need to come together and support the Majority Coalition Caucus members who are up for re-election. We must ensure these pro-business leaders return to Olympia to continue the work we have started.

“Senator Tim Sheldon is a vital part of the Majority Caucus Coalition and he brings balance and years of experience to the Senate.”

Sheldon is running against Irene Bowling, a Democrat and Travis Couture, a Republican. Because of his conservative voting record Sheldon has enjoyed lots of support over the years from voters who identify as Republicans. Bowling will likely get lots of support from Democrats and could very well emerge on top in the primary in August.

Sheldon has to make sure Couture’s presence doesn’t split so many Republicans that he comes in third. The Angel endorsement seems to be aimed at Republicans so that they are not tempted to vote for someone who says he is one of them in favor of someone who pretty much votes with them, even though he considers himself a Democrat.

With Rodney Tom’s decision to not run this year it means Sheldon is the only Democratic member of the this session’s Senate Majority Coalition Caucus who will be back in the Legislature next year.

One more on the homeless bill, and then we are likely done for maybe three years

Ed Friedrich’s story on the bill that prolonged a real estate transaction fee to pay for housing for the homeless gives a good synopsis of what went down. We’ve paid a lot of attention to this bill in some part because of state Sen. Jan Angel’s role in stopping it from going to the floor from her committee.

Hours before the session ended Angel was able to introduce the final version of the bill that keeps the funding going, but also addresses some problems Angel and others had with the overall program.

One of Angel’s objections when the bill was in committee was that this fee is only charged in real estate transactions. While individuals who buy homes, change titles, etc. are the ones paying the fee, Angel suggested it unfair that the real estate industry was the only being asked to shoulder the burden. She has also made the case that the real estate market is cyclical, so funding for the program is subject to the market’s whims.

The final bill passed by the Legislature does not change any of that, but it puts in place the possibility that the state could find a different funding source to either supplement or replace the current fee. Following a performance audit of the program the state will convene a task force that will report on other funding possibilities by the end of 2017. Legislators would then have two years to come up with something different before facing another deadline worse than the one they just faced. Missing this deadline would have seen the fee drop and then go away. Missing the 2019 deadline set by the new legislation means the fee just goes away.

Department of Commerce statistics conclude the program has dropped homelessness in the state by 29 percent overall. For families the number is 74 percent. For individuals it’s 5 percent.

In Kitsap County the drop in homelessness appears to be well above the 50 percent target, but that assumes I’m reading the state Department of Commerce report correctly. I’ll check on Monday. In Mason County it looks like homelessness has actually gone up.

The bill also stipulates that at least 45 percent of the funding wind up in the hands of for-profit landlords. Again, assuming I’m reading the Commerce report correctly, I don’t see where that has been a problem anywhere. In Kitsap County $648,478 went to for-profit landlords in 2012. Another $177,529 went to what the state defines as “public” landlords. Nothing went to non-profits. In Mason County $112,379 went to for-profits, and that was all of it.

In the end eight senators and 22 representatives voted against the program, all of them Republicans. All nine of Kitsap’s legislators voted for it.

Below you can watch the conversation on the Senate floor, a discussion led off by Angel.

Angel at center of controversy over funding for homeless

State Sen. Jan Angel, the Republican elected to finish the final year of a four-year term, pulled a parliamentary move she is allowed to in her role as committee co-chair, prompting at least one howl from within her own party and a failed Democratic countermove in the main chamber.

At issue is a bill, House Bill 2368, that helps counties and the state fund programs for the homeless. Counties charge a $40 fee on real estate transactions and apply it toward state and county efforts to assist with rental housing payments, grants for transitional housing, emergency assistance, overnight shelters for young people, emergency shelters, and to help human trafficking victims and their families. Under the legislation originally passed in 2005 the fee was set to go down to $30 next year, and then to $10. This year’s bill would essentially make the $40 fee permanent.

Supporters of the bill argued that attaching the fee to documents related to real estate was appropriate, because reducing homelessness helps protect property values, keeps people out of jail and out of emergency rooms. Opponents contend that real estate fees are not an appropriate way to fund efforts to reduce homelessness and that the law was supposed to be temporary when it was written in 2005.

The bill was among those expected to be heard in a Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee hearing, but Angel gaveled the meeting before the bill could be discussed. Once the gavel is hit, TVW stops recording video, but there was audio, (Start at 1:03:45) and the first voice complaining about the meeting’s quick conclusion is Republican Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver, who is hardly liberal lion. Benton, in fact, working with a Democrat from the House, had helped create the compromise bill the committee was supposed to consider. Benton asks about 2368 and Angel says, “The meeting is now adjourned.” Benton expresses disappointment. State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who co-chairs the committee said the bill was a bipartisan/bicameral piece of legislation everyone had agreed to, to which Angel said all parties are not in agreement. “We’ll continue to work on this during interim,” she said, to create a bill that works.

Hobbs told the (Tacoma) News Tribune that Angel was operating with orders from Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Leader Rodney Tom. Angel denied it, saying even if he had issued orders, “I work for the people of my district.”

On Friday Senate Democrats issued a statement that included comment from another Kitsap senator. “In my district, and in districts across the state, this is the most important source of funding we have to help the homeless,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island. “People are playing politics with an issue that should be supported by everyone. There shouldn’t even be a second thought.”

The bill was an amended version that had passed out of the House with a 62-36 vote. All six Kitsap legislators in the House voted for the bill.

Democrats tried to pull a procedural move to get the bill heard on the main floor, but the majority caucus, including Benton, held firm in denying them. The News Tribune said the bill could be part of last-minute dealmaking before the session ends March 13.

This is news: Angel bills get hearings

Over the first five years of Jan Angel’s legislative career one of her laments has been that her bills don’t get the attention they deserve because she was in the minority in the House chamber.

With Angel’s ascent into the Senate, that has all changed. On Monday her office issued a press release announcing that eight of her bills were getting hearings. We wrote about one of them, the bill that would allow a man who can prove he is not the father of a child to relinquish rights and responsibilities (i.e. child support) of parenthood.

In the Senate Law & Justice Committee hearing on that bill, SB 5997, Angel led off by testifying on the paternity bill, then was allowed to testify on another of her bills, one dealing with first class cities being able to employ warrant officers, so she could leave that committee to go address Angel-authored legislation in other committees.

Even more Angel news: Members of the Senate Majority Coalition want Angel to co-chair the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee with Lake Stevens Democrat Steve Hobbs. Angel does have some experience in banking and coalition leaders say they want to take advantage of that, according to the story by the (Tacoma) News Tribune’s Jordan Schrader.

No one will blame you, though, if you suspect some of this is designed to elevate Angel’s stature in Olympia, especially given that she faces re-election in November. Her opponent last November, one-year appointee Democrat Nathan Schlicher, got the opposite treatment, or so some suspect. If politics are at play, that could have an impact on whether legislation Angel supports gets enthusiastic, or any, treatment in the House.

Even if there are no political forces at play, bills often take more than one session to make it to final passage. First drafts will often have problems that are not identified until they get hearings, or at least introduced. Also , this is a short session and the time frame is crunched, something Angel referenced in her press release. Getting the eight bills heard is a good start, a great start, but any bill has to get passed in the House, too, which means someone over there is going to have to consider it a priority.

On the paternity bill Angel had expected there to be a companion bill in the House. This legislation, or some form of it, was originally introduced in the House during 2011-12 session by state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla. Walsh and fellow Republican Hans Zeiger of Puyallup had thought to reintroduce the bill in the House, but according to a House Republican Caucus spokesman have decided not to, because the Senate bill was already moving.

If you want to watch the conversation about the paternity bill, it’s on the video below. It’s the first item of discussion, is interrupted briefly by the bill about warrants so Angel can go to another committee. Below the video is the text of Angel’s press release.

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Kitsap legislators (re)assume leadership posts.

Kitsap legislators have received their leadership assignments for what’s supposed to be the short legislative session that began this week.

State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, was named Senate Democratic floor leader. According to a Senate Democrats statement the floor leader’s role is to “help manage the action on the Senate floor, and to work across the aisle to ensure the debate runs smoothly. The floor leader is also the caucus point person on parliamentary procedure.” Rolfes is also the assistant ranking member on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

Potlatch state Sen. Tim Sheldon, one of two Democrats in the Senate Majority Coalition, returns as Senate president pro tempore, which means he runs the Senate floor from up front, wielding the big gavel whenever Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is not there. Sheldon is also vice chairman of two committees, Rules and Energy, Environment & Telecommunications.

New Sen. Jan Angel, elected in November, is vice chairwoman of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee.

Three Democrats in the House will chair committees this session. State Rep. Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo chairs the Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee. Kathy Haigh of Shelton is chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. Gig Harbor’s Larry Seaquist will chair the Higher Education Committee. Bainbridge Island’s Drew Hansen is vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Republican Drew MacEwen of Union is the assistant ranking minority member on two committees, the Capital Budget Committee and the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

Tweet the state House Republicans

Washington State House Republicans will hold a Twitter town hall forum from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday. State Rep. Dan Kristiansen and J.T. Wilcox will answer Tweeted questions.

Use the hashtag #solutionsWA.

The party’s press release is below.

No word on when the counties will meet to replace Jan Angel in the House. Josh Brown’s replacement on the commission might happen Monday afternoon.

Washington House Republicans to host Twitter town hall January 9

Washington House Republicans will host the Legislature’s first-ever Twitter town hall, January 9, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Participants can ask House Republican leadership members Rep. Dan Kristiansen and Rep. J.T. Wilcox a 140-character question using the hashtag #solutionsWA.

House Republicans are not the only government entity to make use of this communications trend nationwide. President Obama held a Twitter town hall last July.

“This event will enable people to ask questions and provide their ideas in the days leading up to the 2014 legislative session,” said House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. “This is a new platform for us. We look forward to hearing from Washingtonians on the issues that are important to them.”

According to Pew Research, nearly one in 10 U.S. adults uses Twitter to share information. And, more than 50 million people in the U.S. use Twitter to get news. However, just like all social media, Twitter has its limitations. Participants and the responding representatives will only have 140 characters to relay their questions, answers and ideas.

“It’s our job as elected officials to involve the public at every opportunity. This is why we use a variety of forums like Twitter, which has a lot of active followers that we may not otherwise hear from on statewide legislative issues,” said House Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm.

The public is encouraged to participate in the January 9 Twitter town hall using #solutionsWA. Those unable to participate or have trouble with #solutionsWA can visit the House Republicans’ Twitter page @WaHouseGOP.

Visit www.houserepublicans.wa.gov for more information about House Republican members, solutions and results.

That’s Senator Angel now

Jan Angel (center) with daughters Erin Brinkerhoff (left) and Kara Morkert (right).
Jan Angel (center) with daughters Erin Brinkerhoff (left) and Kara Morkert (right).
Jan Angel, former county commissioner and Republican state representative in the 26th Legislative District since 2009, took the oath of office to be the district’s state Senator on Tuesday.

Angel defeated Nathan Schlicher, who in January was appointed by Pierce and Kitsap county officials, in November to hold the Senate seat for one year. Angel will hold the seat the final year of the term Derek Kilmer was elected to in 2010. Kilmer, a Democrat, is now in Congress. Angel has already begun fundraising for the 2014 campaign when she plans to seek a full four-year term.

Republicans might not get a replacement for Angel before the Legislative session begins on Jan. 13, but that could depend on how quickly Kitsap County commissioners are willing to move. The GOP’s 26th Legislative District precinct committee officers chose Jesse Young as its top choice to replace Angel, followed by Adam Berman and Doug Cloud. All are from Gig Harbor.

The ultimate decision rests with commissioners from Kitsap County and Pierce County council members. As it stands now, it seems unlikely they would meet before Jan. 6. That’s the first date for a meeting of just Kitsap County commissioners and one of the first items of business for them will be selecting a replacement for Josh Brown, who is leaving the board for a position with the Puget Sound Regional Council. Assuming the commissioners would want a full board in making the 26th Legislative District selection, it seems unlikely they would schedule a meeting before Jan. 7.

A Jan. 7 selection meeting would be on time for the Legislature, but it would not give the new state representative any ability to officially craft legislation, choose staff and move into office space well before the session begins.

Hooray! More mostly bogus advertising in the 26th LD race!

We’re less than a week away from seeing election results, but the ads keep on coming. Assuming there might be someone still undecided out there it seemed worthwhile to look at some of the claims and see how much truth we can find. Some of the claims are in new ads. Some are classics.

First, a couple pieces of advice.

  • 1. Question any ad that makes a conclusion based on one piece of legislation.
  • 2. Question any ad that makes a claim based on one part of a single piece of legislation.
  • 3. Question any ad by a politician or group characterizing the opposition’s views.
  • 4. Know that many of the details in campaign ads are true, but they don’t necessarily tell a true story.
  • 5. Assume every single campaign advertisement could be lying to you.

CLAIM: “SHAMEFUL: Schlicher Takes Advantage of Senator’s Choice to Breastfeed”
THE STORY: There is a true story here that doesn’t make Democrats look good even under the most flattering lights. Party leaders deny the worst accusations about the incident, and how much Schlicher was to blame for it is a bigger question. This ad comes from the state Republican Party. The Good Government Coalition also funded a similar ad. I refer you to Washington State Wire and Crosscut stories that discuss the incident. The short version is that a Republican senator who regularly took breaks to nurse her baby was excused from the floor. On one occasion Democrats took advantage of her absence to push a Schlicher-sponsored bill dealing with administrative costs for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to a vote. The bill had the support of 11 of 12 senators in committee. The ad says Schlicher “helped lead an effort by his party for a power play.” It was his bill, sure. He certainly would have benefited politically had it passed. And the Democrats issued a press release after the incident in which Schlicher was quoted. But another Democrat, Seattle’s David Frockt, was the one blamed for pushing the vote. He and other Democrats said they didn’t know the absent senator was off breastfeeding. If you’re skeptical of that, I can’t blame you.

CLAIM: Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for deceased multi-millionaires over education for our kids.
THE STORY:
Angel is a “no new taxes” enthusiast, which gives an organization like She’s Changed PAC, the advertiser here, ample fodder to make statements like Angel likes (insert bad thing here) more than (insert good thing here). Angel’s side employs the same technique. Angel is unlikely to vote for any new tax on the belief that the state can fund its priorities with existing revenues. In this case Angel was opposed to the Legislature’s decision to change state law in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that would have forced the state to refund $160 million in estate taxes to people who can legitimately be called multi-millionaires. The money the state held onto did go to education, so there’s the link between rich people and our kids. The problem is that Angel might be right that the state could eventually have to pay back this money. The Legislature essentially clarified the intent of an older law and applied that clarification retroactively.

CLAIM: Representative Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for Big Oil companies over our kids’ schools.
THE STORY:
This is essentially a new version of the anti-Angel claim above. She’s hawkish on taxes, and considers closing loopholes a new tax. The argument on a She’s Changed PAC flyer makes a lucid and issue-driven argument against Angel’s position on tax loopholes for oil, except for where it definitively links that position with schools. Again, Angel says “Fund education first,” then fund everything else, so she could be for that money, but not when it comes from that tax. Most either/or arguments like this are “either” misleading “or” false. Fund education first, she says, satisfies the state constitution. Schlicher counters that there are other funding mandates required under the constitution, too, so Angel’s suggestion for a funding formula puts other constitutionally mandated programs at risk.

CLAIM: Schlicher opposes the voter-approved 2/3rds majority to raise taxes.
THE STORY:
People for Jobs, Enterprise Washington uses an email Schlicher sent to a constituent. At least most of the ads get it right that Schlicher thinks the Supreme Court was right to overturn the voter initiative, but they leave out the rest of his position. Here’s the quote from a letter he wrote to Kelly Haughton: “While I do agree with the court decision that the initiative was unconstitutional, the message was clear: taxes should not be the default solution of the government in times of fiscal crisis. I support the will of the people to consider a constitutional amendment on the issue and will vote for a reasonable version of an amendment.” Where Republicans can take bigger issue is that he doesn’t think corporate tax loopholes that don’t provide a benefit to the state (And that is the reason to establish a loophole.) should be subject to the 2/3 standard.

CLAIM: “Nathan Schlicher voted against a bill for early intervention to help all students read by the 4th grade, instead favoring the special interests of a campaign contributor.”
THE STORY:
This references Senate Bill 5946, which in part addressed reading skills for third graders. The original version of the bill had no funding provided to local districts, yet directed districts what they were to do. In other places that’s called an “unfunded mandate.” One of the solutions suggested for kids in third grade was discussing whether the student should stay in third grade. Schlicher argued that keeping kids in third grade would be the default solution, because the bill provided no money for anything else. The bill passed by four votes in the Senate, went to the House and came back to the Senate. The final bill had funding. Schlicher voted for that version, which passed the Senate in a 46-2 vote.

CLAIM: “When insurance companies wanted to eliminate basic care like mammograms and maternity care, Jan Angel sponsored House Bill 1804 that would cut our benefits.”
THE STORY:
We’ve addressed this one before, but it keeps coming up in part because Angel has expressed so much outrage over the claim, citing her own personal history of having one third of her breast removed. The Seattle Times ruled that a TV commercial saying Angel “led efforts to eliminate coverage for mammograms,” was “Mostly false.” The Times was right on that ad. But wait, there is more. Angel co-sponsored a bill that would have removed all state mandates on insurance coverage, conditions and services government requires insurance companies to cover. The bill would have exchanged state rules for the mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Had the bill passed, mammogram coverage would have still been required, but only for women 40 and above and not for immigrants. Some women would have lost coverage under the bill. Men get breast cancer, too. The state requires coverage for their mammograms and the ACA does not. Additionally, Angel has stated she is against the Affordable Care Act, even though her voting record is mixed on funding state implementation of the federal law, according to the (Tacoma) News Tribune. So, Angel is against the Affordable Care Act, yet she voted to remove state mandates in favor of ACA rules. This becomes a question of whether Angel supports any government mandates about health insurance. In a campaign questionnaire she wrote that she favored a free market, “menu driven/choice plan.” So if she had her way and insurers got to offer the plans they wanted, would they all stop covering mammograms? In theory they could, but insurance companies wouldn’t stay in business if they didn’t cover anything. Is Angel absolute about her thoughts on insurance companies? I’ve asked and I can’t get an answer. I tried to ask her after the Oct. 3 forum in Gig Harbor if the state mandate bill had passed and Obamacare went away, would she want government somewhere to require insurance companies to cover mammograms? She said she couldn’t answer a hypothetical question. I’ve forwarded a similar question, “Should any government tell insurance companies what they have to cover?” and have received no answer. So, yes, details in this claim are wrong, but until Angel definitively says she is for or against mandates I have a hard time raising the finish flag on the issue.

Cheer up. There’s only one more week of this. It will be months before it all starts again. In these final few days if you’ve seen any other claims you question, let us know and we’ll see if we can dig into it.

KING 5 hosts Angel and Schlicher, and a couple of reporters

Friday morning Jan Angel and Nathan Schlicher sat down with Mark Wright at KING-5 for a segment that will air Sunday morning.

Wright also invited Tacoma News Tribune political reporter Jordan Schrader and me to weigh in once the candidates left.

Both spots will air sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Sunday. Each segment was around five minutes.

Schrader and I were in what I think you would call a “control room” while the candidates talked. I don’t want to provide any spoilers, so you’ll have to watch it to see it. What won’t be on air, though, is the candidates apparently kept on debating well after the cameras stopped rolling. Everything I’ve heard secondhand and could see on the monitors suggested it got a little testy. Nothing too outrageous, but oh, how I wished I could hear what they were saying.

In the control room one of the directors wearing headphones said afterward that they were still talking, like it was a surprise. Another one said they were laughing, but the first director then said that it was “awkward.” They both were out of there before Schrader and I taped.

Enjoy it, if five and five minutes of political talk is your thing.

Audio from Angel’s press conference

State Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, conducted a press conference Thursday in which she called on She’s Changed PAC, the committee advertising against her, to return $455,000 to Thomas Steyer, the California billionaire who is spending heavily throughout the country.

Here is the audio:

1. Angel-press.mp3     

Angel and the state Republican Party argue a $3 million donation Steyer made to his own PAC was illegal. She called on Democratic state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, to call on She’s Changed PAC to return the money. She also wanted Steyer prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office and the Public Disclosure Commission.

The PDC has since spoken with representatives from Steyer’s PAC and were assured, even before the donation, that the group would be spending no more money in Washington.

Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman, said the PDC is fine with that.

UPDATED: State GOP says late Steyer donations to his own PAC illegal

The state Republican Party is asking the Public Disclosure Commission to file an injunction against the NextGen Climate Action Committee sponsored by Thomas Steyer to prevent the committee from spending $3 million Steyer donated on Friday.

Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman, said within the final three weeks of an election the most a political committee can receive from a single source is $5,000, unless the committee is addressing a ballot initiative.

The committee will have the opportunity to address the complaint. “We will send the complaint to the committee that’s alleged to have received the contribution and they have to defend what they’ve done,” Anderson said.

State GOP Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison said in a statement, “Senator Nathan Schlicher needs to answer this question: will you repudiate this illegal spending by an outside donor or do you want the people of Pierce and Kitsap County to be represented by someone bought and paid for with illegal out of state money?”

“I would hope that everyone follows the PDC’s rules and that they don’t spend money on our campaign or any campaign in the state. I agree that everyone should follow PDC laws.” Schlicher said. “No one should participate in illegal spending.”

Schlicher said the WSRP’s release trying to link him to the donation is in line with other attacks, such as a mailer that went out suggesting that Schlicher is no longer a doctor and was practicing law again. “This is just another unfortunate attempt to exaggerate and mislead the public and I hope people see through this,” he said.

NextGen now reports $9.3 million in donations. The GOP is probably correct that $455,000 of it has gone to the Schlicher-Angel contest, (I found $400,000 and the party connected other dots and was probably correct.) far more NextGen money has gone to campaigns in other states. I don’t know that this is unprecedented, but it’s not something I’ve seen a lot, if at all. I’ve contacted NextGen’s rep in Sacramento for a response to the complaint and an explanation of the committee’s reported spending elsewhere. If I receive a return call I’ll report it here.

UPDATE: Angel just announced she’s having a press conference Thursday morning on this subject.

UPDATE II: NextGen responded:

NextGen Climate Action released the following statement today:

“Jan Angel is trying to distract from her positions that are harmful to the health of kids and families in Washington. Our lawyers spoke with the Public Disclosure Commission prior to making the contribution and they agreed that the 21 day rule does not apply to FEC registered committees. We are in full compliance with all Washington election laws.”

Matthew Lewis
spokesman

Lewis also confirmed that none of the money donated on the 18th will be spent in Washington. “We’re not concerned about the legal issues at all,” he said.

More as it develops.

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All tied up in the 26th?

Seattle native Reid Wilson wrote a blog piece for the Washington Post. Given that it’s aimed at a national audience that hasn’t paid a whole lot of attention to our state’s race, the piece goes over pretty much everything that has been covered here.

Except for one thing.

Reid mentions that both parties are polling and showing the race to be “virtually tied.”

This could be attributed to both parties wanting to make sure none of their faithful stay home. In other words, they could be lying. But I have heard this before in more than one off-the-record conversation.

Angel won by nine points in the primary. After that win I looked at past elections to see if a primary loss that large was insurmountable. Schlicher would need the needle to move five percentage points in his direction to win (because that would also mean the needle was moving five points away from Angel). Tim Probst did it in the 17th District in 2010, turning a six-point primary loss into a six-point general election win. It can happen. It doesn’t happen often, but it can.

Jan Angel is talking to the media again

State Rep. Jan Angel, the Port Orchard Republican running for a state Senate seat against appointed incumbent state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, a Gig Harbor Democrat, issued a press release Tuesday explaining that she will do interviews with the media. She listed four television appearances she will be making in the coming days.

This follows our story Sunday, As 26th campaign winds down, Angel silent to media requests, and declined invitations to KUOW and the Associated Press. I knew Angel had declined AP’s request, but didn’t put it in the Sunday story in case she changed her mind before the AP story ran Monday.

We wrote the Angel/media story, not out of any personal indignation. People refuse to talk to us all the time. It doesn’t happen often in a political campaign, so we thought it an interesting strategy for a campaign to be silent to the media. We talked to a couple of political experts who weighed in, one who provided several reasons why that would be the preferred option.

Angel’s press release from Wednesday Tuesday states, “Rep. Jan Angel’s position on accommodating media interviews remains unchanged.”

As mentioned before, last week Angel turned down requests from the Associated Press, KUOW and us. The press release doesn’t mention those interviews, but references a move made by KOMO-TV’s Keith Eldridge on Monday. Eldridge apparently showed up at campaign headquarters and her house asking to talk to her. Part of that story included this exchange:

Keith Eldridge: “There was a complaint that she’s dodging the media.”
Keith Schipper (Angel’s campaign spokesman): “I’ve heard that complaint. It’s not true at all.”

To be clear, I did not show up at her doorstep, figuratively or literally, when I tried to get her to talk to me for a story for Sunday. I called her cell phone on Wednesday, hoping to speak to her for 15 minutes on Thursday. When I didn’t hear anything I e-mailed Schipper on Thursday at 10:34 a.m.:

“Keith, I left a message on Rep. Angel’s cell phone and have not heard back yet. I’d like to meet with her today for about 15 minutes for a Q&A story. I could do this over the phone if necessary, but in person would be cleaner audio and I would like to record it.

“The plan is to have a Q&A story on Sunday and include the audio on the Kitsap Caucus blog. I’m meeting with Schlicher at 3 p.m. today in Gig Harbor. What time other than that one would work for Jan? I can be reached at 360-792-3343, or 360-620-9630. If we do this by phone I will give you another number, a Google Voice number that I use to record calls. Thanks.”

He replied four minutes later:

“Steven, Jan isn’t doing any press interviews at this time. With ballots dropping over the next few days, she is 100% focused on using any spare time she has on our grassroots efforts during these last few weeks of the campaign.. I apologize for any inconvenience this may present,”

I read that to mean she would not be doing media interviews for the rest of the campaign. “At this time,” did not suggest that. ” … she is 100% focused on using any spare time she has on our grassroots efforts during these last few weeks of the campaign,” did.

At 10:41 I responded:

“We are going to do the interview with Schlicher and write a story and in that story we will indicate that Jan Angel was not doing press interviews.”

At 1:16 p.m. Schipper responded:

“I understand where you’re coming from, but Jan sat down and was filmed by your editorial board for an hour, you’ve interviewed her in the past, and you’ve attended their forums, so it’s not as if she hasn’t been available and you should be able to get plenty of great answers from those. Also, I am always available so please use me as a resource if you have any other questions on this race as well. This campaign is going to be won in the field, and that is where we’ve set our attention to right now. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience.”

That afternoon I recorded the interview with Schlicher. The next afternoon I e-mailed questions to Schipper and he responded within a few hours, so we had the Q&A story for Sunday to go along with the media story.

Sometime around 2 p.m. Tuesday Jordan Schrader at the Tacoma News Tribune posted an update to an earlier story about the media silence, that Angel had called him and said she never intended to shutdown the media entirely.

At 3:55 p.m. the campaign emailed the press release saying her position on media interviews was “unchanged.”

The press release states that Angel needed time with constituents to clear up issues with ads from Schlicher and the committees campaigning against Angel saying that her backing a bill removing state mandates would have cut off funding for mammograms. I’ve made a request to get clarity from the campaign on that particular issue.

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