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McKenna attack ad belies harm his AG office inflicts on small businesses


In a sign of desperation for an office he has sought since he began his career in politics as student body president at the University of Washington, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna has decided to go negative and attack his Democratic challenger, Jay Inslee.

This is after a much-refuted Republican Governors Association ad, which even the conservative Seattle Times labeled “mostly false,” featuring five old white guys sitting in a presumably out-of-state all-white TV set grousing about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) injures small businesses.  Actually, under the ACA no small business, even a fake coffee shop, with fewer than 50 workers would be subject to its employer mandate.

McKenna’s own piece picks up the drumbeat of how Inslee somehow, while in Congress, injured small businesses. It features a “small businesswoman” named Karissa Bresheare.

Bresheare been quite a busy bee donating to Republicans, whether $1,260 to McKenna in this cycle or even $250 to a Spokane-located front group entitled the “Voters Want More Choices” Political Action Committee.  In one 2004 report, Bresheare accounted for roughly one-fourth of that PAC’s funding.  What a true believer!  The PAC was a Tim Eyman group to fund his initiative-driven salary.  She also gave $300 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2003.

Because the ad concludes by showing McKenna — a career politician — with a labcoat-wearing worker,it might to be interpreted to suggest Inslee is going to damage Washington’s renowned high-tech sector.

In truth, as her company’s website reveals, Bresheare owns 11 coffee stands in King and Snohomish counties (I’m not sure what the commercial’s image of her in a lavish boardroom is meant to convey).  Thus it’s unlikely she has enough full-time workers to meet the ACA’s employer mandate, even if, as her website claims, “There are 60 or so great Baristas and Employees that keep me energized and motivated.”

Accordingly, it is improbable Inslee has ever done anything in Congress to increase government’s burden upon her. In fact, the ACA will be a boon not just to low-wage workers who have insurance provided through Medicaid or subsidized through the individual market, but also to small businesses that struggle to retain workers with affordable health care.  Indeed, The Washington Post reported this month that a poll of more than 6,000 small business owners showed that, by an 8-point margin, they support the re-election of President Barack Obama instead of Wall Street tycoon Mitt Romney.

In any event, Bresheare’s attack in McKenna’s ad is strangely against Inslee’s plan to create a new state agency, an Economic Competitiveness and Development Office.  The ad’s preposterous claim is that this will result in more taxes. As Inslee (unwisely in my view) has weighed in against new taxes, it’s impossible to imagine a single agency of a necessarily small size could — on its own — result in new taxes. Instead, it could assist in cutting some of the red tape that small businesses, undeniably experience interacting with state government.

However, McKenna has undoubtedly added to the burden small businesses in our state face by failing to achieve proactive risk management against the state’s negligent acts. These have resulted in an increase in liability for the state from the tenure of his predecessor as attorney general — Christine Gregoire — as even the far-right Wenatchee World reported Dec. 8, 2011.

The total payout in 2010, $76 million, was three times more than what was paid out under Gregoire’s last year as attorney general. The total price for McKenna’s failure to police risk was $300 million over six years.

Instead of proactively preventing risk, the ideologue McKenna has argued that the state should simply be unaccountable for the harm it inflicts upon everyday citizens, including small business owners. Rather than cutting ads pretending to support small businesses, McKenna could perhaps tend to his day job and reduce taxpayer payouts for liability.

Brendan Williams is a former State Representative from the 22nd Legislative District.

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