Matthes apologizes to city for tussle with opponents, stands by his interpretation of campaign finance law

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes was contrite Monday following an altercation Friday over campaign finance records that involved Matthes, running for re-election, former mayor Lary Coppola, Teresa Osinski, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, and others.

Osinski’s request to review Matthes’ campaign contributions and expenditures, as allowed by law, devolved into a tug-of-war between Matthes and Osinski over the the folder containing the records. In an audio recording by Matthes’ supporter Robert Parker, there are sounds of scuffling and broken glass shortly before an abrupt end to the meeting, held at the Bremerton Bar & Grill.

“I apologize that this is reflecting poorly on the city,” said Matthes who stressed he was acting in his capacity as a candidate not as mayor at the meeting. “I apologize to city residents and to my supporters, too. I let them down, and myself too, by allowing this to get out of hand.”

The meeting, already tense in tone, went south after Coppola arrived, and Matthes told Osinski he would not show her the records while Coppola was present. Coppola, who lost the 2011 election to Matthes by five votes after a contentious campaign, is a member of the HBA’s board and was there as a witness to the proceedings, Osinski said.

Osinski said Matthes at one point “lunged across the table” reaching for the documents, causing and injury to her hand. Parker said it wasn’t a lunge and that Osinski appeared the aggressor. Osinski reported her hand hurt after the incident. Matthes got a paper cut.

Coppola and Linda Simpson, a Bremerton resident there on behalf of Matthes, both told Bremerton police that Coppola tried to take a video of the altercation with his cell phone and Simpson tried to block him. Simpson and Parker say Coppola at one point pushed Simpson. Coppola did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. The audio indicates a verbal confrontation between the two of them. See the partial transcript from the audio recording at the height of the confrontation, below.

“This was a candidate Tim thing. I was not representing the city or city staff,” said Matthes. “It saddens me that political stuff gets this bad. Sometimes the rhetoric, the viciousness just gets out of control. I think this is prime example of things getting out of control. I apologize for my part.”

Matthes raised and spent under $5,000 on his campaign and opted for “mini-reporting” of his campaign spending. The law allows people to inspect mini-reporting records within eight days of the election, and Osinski had an appointment to do so.

Both Matthes and his supporters say a revision to state law (RCW 42.17A.235) put them within their rights to bar Coppola from the meeting and to end the meeting when he wouldn’t leave. However, a spokeswoman from the state’s Public Disclosure Commission and a local legislator who co-sponsored the bill that effected the change say the new law doesn’t speak to the presence of witnesses.

HB 1819 adds to the RCW the requirement, “A person wishing to inspect the books of account must provide the treasurer with his or her telephone number and must provide photo identification prior to inspecting the books of account. A treasurer may refuse to show the books of account to any person who does not make an appointment or provide the required identification.”

Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the intent of the legislation is to impose requirements on the person asking to look at the records, not to prevent people coming along to watch the proceedings. That also was the interpretation of Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman.

“I don’t know that that change necessarily prevents someone from accompanying” the person inspecting the records, Anderson said. In the PDC’s view, Coppola’s presence was irrelevant to the role of the PDC, which is to ensure the candidate’s compliance in sharing campaign finance records, Anderson said. “They have the burden of proof to whoever wants to see them.”

Matthes’ group asserts the last sentence refers to people who accompany those requesting to see the records. Simpson said Coppola was close enough to Osinski to be able to see Matthes’ campaign ledger. Matthes said, “When you’re in a room like we were, if you’re witnessing it or in the room where it’s being discussed, I believe it’s the same thing as inspecting.”

Anderson acknowledged that the recent dust-up at the Bremerton Bar & Grill exposes a gray area of the new law. “You’ve brought up a situation that the PDC hadn’t thought about, and maybe we need to do some rule making around if other people come they need to be announced.”

Simpson said she contacted the PDC before the meeting so they would be aware of the rules. Nothing in there speaks to witnesses, she said.

Parker and Simpson argue that it was a private meeting, so Coppola shouldn’t have attended. Osinski said she was not made aware that Matthes would have other people with him.

Matthes on Monday said he has raised $1,600 in campaign contributions (other than funds provided by himself to his campaign). He has spent $2,889.30

Partial transcript of audio recording by Robert Parker on Oct. 30 of a meeting between Teresa Osinski of the HBA and Tim Matthes, cadidate for Port Orchard Mayor, for the purpose of Osinski viewing Matthes’ campaign finance records, as allowed by law.

Matthes to Osinski: “I’ll be more than happy to show you these records … if you just follow the prescribed law, you can see them.”

Matthes to Coppola: “I’d ask you now to wait in the outside area.”

Coppola: “I’m not going anywhere.”

Matthes: “OK, that pretty much ends this.”

Osinski: No, it doesn’t, I have an appointment and I’m going to look at your books.”

Matthes: “No you’re not. Not as long as he’s (Coppola) sitting here. As long as he’s sitting here, you’re not going to look …”

Osinski: “(Coppola) doesn’t need to look at them. I do.”

Matthes: “Would you give the books up?” (sounds of scuffling)

“Osinski: “I have the book.” (more sounds of scuffling)

Matthew: “No you don’t have the books.” (glasses breaking) “No you don’t have the books. Now you don’t have the books.”

Osiniski: “Give me my book.”

Other person: “It’s not your book.”

Osinski: “I have a book under there. Give it to me.”

Simpson: “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me.”

Coppola: “Don’t you touch me.”

Simpson: “I didn’t, you touched me.”

Coppola: “I haven’t touched you.”

Matthes: “Under these circumstances I’d say you all need to be out.”

Matthes, citing RCW 42.17A.235, told Osinski he’d show her the records when Coppola left.

10 thoughts on “Matthes apologizes to city for tussle with opponents, stands by his interpretation of campaign finance law

  1. the HBA has sunk to a new low. Now that I am aware that Lary Coppala is on the board I will screen the contractors I hire to make sure they are not members. The HBA seems real heavy on supporting the commercial builders, not so much the small contractors.

  2. This seems like a bunch of nothing. If this is all that is involved, our local media need to get new jobs. I think Mayor Tim isn’t doing a good job fixing our horrible downtown. He’s done what he said he would do and I feel bad for him that this event is overblown.

  3. Tim Matthes is a man of good character and integrity. He did NOT cause this mess–he was doing all that he could to accommodate Ms. Osinski only to blind-sided by a man who continuously looks for ways to undermine him–at every turn. I am embarrassed for the HBA and any other association that supports or relates to them. If Ms. Osinski and Mr. Capola are on the board, then–as a person who would want to protect my reputation and integrity–I would put distance between myself and them as quickly as possible. I would definitely not trust their motives or agendas, and I would question every statement they make and every action they take. As a citizen of Port Orchard who LOVES this town that I live and work in, I am dismayed by the underhanded and deceptive practices that I have witnessed in the past month or two. For those who work with and have aligned themselves with these individuals (and others who choose to behave like them), I want you to know that there are community members who will apply the old saying, “Guilt by association”, and question your motives and agendas, as well.

    I appreciate Mr. Matthes’ apology to the community for his “part” in the scuffle, but I don’t believe he is at fault–in ANY capacity–for what transpired. If you listen to the audio recording, it all becomes very clear.

  4. It appears the mayor was the only adult in the room. I’m really tired of the frequent attacks that come from angry people, with their intentional misinterpretations of anything that might put an opponent in a bad light while insinuating they are being victimized. We have elected too many supposed victims in this county (and nation) already. They are irresponsible and useless.

  5. What a setup! Ms. Osinski deserves an Academy Award. Low dealings on this one. Her appearance with her arm in a sling brought tears to my eyes, of laughter. These people, she and her Att. Husband,are egregious in their political pursuit. Mathews may not be a Great mayor but he certainly did not deserve this ambush.

  6. If this is how the HBA is going to operate in local elections, it is never too soon to start educating voters about what to watch for well before our next major elections in Bremerton roll around. It is unfortunate that good people in Port Orchard have had to suffer for this, but by doing so they have done the rest of Kitsap County an excellent favor in revealing the true nasty colors of Ms Osinski, the agenda of the HBA and anyone who supports her in retaining a leadership position at this organization going forward.

  7. I would like to jump on the bandwagon and blame this character or that character or say this group is responsible for the debacle that is Port Orchard politics.

    I cannot.

    Ultimately, the voters of Port Orchard have allowed special interest groups to hijack and co-opt their political process. They have no one to blame but themselves. 24% of registered voters turned out?

    Mayor “Rob” didn’t even bother getting photographed with actual Port Orchard citizens for his campaign literature. Susan James Whitford, who I’m sure is a lovely person, lives in Manchester. I think her role in this election was to deliver the educator’s vote. TU. Unfortunately for Mayor “Rob”, most of the TU members live in the county and have a view of the water and Seattle. Nice life, but you can’t vote in PO.

    The actual citizens/voters of Port Orchard should realize they are providing a battleground for various agencies and commissions and authorities to flex their muscle and lobby for their piece of the pie.

    The actual citizens/voters of Port Orchard will at some point get sick of the drama and getting used and say, “This is my town. This is where I chose to raise my kids. This is where I pay taxes. I want a parks department and I want bike trails and I want a high school that my kids can say they are proud they graduated from.”

    Have any of you ever read a newspaper in other parts of the country? They ask ordinary citizens, coming out of the grocery store, what they think about current events. Or the upcoming election. Ordinary citizens are the important people in most communities. In Port Orchard it is all schmoozing and persuasion and photo ops. “I’m really good friends with this important person who is important because I say she is.” There is no educating or teaching or informing the populace. The powers that be don’t want informed voters. And the uninformed voters play right into their hands.

    Well, Coreen might get something out of this. She might get a cleanup contract when they find out the pilings beneath the north side of Bay Street are rotten. It bears mentioning that Coreen is not a citizen of Port Orchard, she barely lives in Kitsap County.

    All of these problems could be rectified by having voter districts and an elected alderman who is accountable to his/her constituents.

  8. Glad the Mayor apologized , considering the folks who have embarrassed him already using social media and the tactics of the extreme in this campaign , perhaps some dignity to his leadership can be restored . When you allow the folks from the groups like South Kitsap Politics and such to take over the political views and what is best in a community to mud throwing and worse , don’t expect respect for an apology from those who supported that tactic to understand the need for civility .

    New Group in Kitsap called Citizen Alert on Face Book . Speaking to these issues and the folks who use and marginalize all of us who support a better community and how we can fight back . Could it be the Realtors just thought the better candidates deserved donations, obviously they all won ;o)

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