GOP operatives target another female Democratic challenger with fake mail in effort to protect Republican incumbent
OLYMPIA (Oct. 24, 2018) — Republican political operatives have doubled down on their dirty-tricks campaign and targeted another Democratic woman who is challenging a male Republican incumbent with phony election mail that urges progressive voters to vote for someone who is not running for office. This time, they are targeting Democratic House candidate Debra Entenman who is in a close race to unseat Rep. Mark Hargrove (R-Covington) in South King County’s 47th District. Fewer than 300 votes separated the two in August’s primary election.
The mailing — again from Republican activist Glen Morgan’s PAC called “Conscience of the Progressives” and again funded by controversial Trump donor Peter Zieve — suggests that Fuse Washington, which publishes a Progressive Voters Guide every election, wants progressives to write-in a locally known politician who is not seeking the office. Again, the goal is to boost Republican Rep. Hargrove’s changes of surviving the challenge from Entenman, who is actually endorsed by Fuse Washington and the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
Entenman, who serves as District Director for Congressman Adam Smith and is on the Renton Technical College Board of Trustees, says she is running for office because she is “passionate about ensuring education opportunity at every age.” In a three-person primary race, the first-time candidate got just 289 votes fewer votes than the veteran GOP Rep. Hargrove.
Hargrove has a 13% voting record on working families’ issues with the WSLC. For example, he voted against raising the minimum wage and against allowing all workers to earn paid sick leave. (Voters subsequently passed an initiative approving both changes.) In 2018 alone, Hargrove voted against union prevailing wages for workers in public construction projects, against the sorely needed Equal Pay Opportunity Act, and against the Washington Voting Rights Act. All of those measures passed despite Hargrove’s opposition.
The WSLC, Fuse and other progressive groups have already filed complaints with the state Public Disclosure Commission over Morgan’s misleading mailings, accusing him of willfully violating state campaign laws. They are asking that the matter be referred to the state Attorney General’s office, which can impose more severe penalties and fines than the PDC.
“This is dirty politics at its worst and we are absolutely livid about it,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “These Republican political operatives must think their candidates can’t win unless they cheat and trick voters. It’s shameless and disgraceful. The Washington State Republican Party and the candidates these mailings are intended to boost should immediately disavow these postcards, and state election authorities should take swift and severe legal action to stop such reprehensible tactics.”
According to Public Disclosure Commission reports, Morgan’s misleading postcards have exclusively targeted Democratic women who are challenging Republican men currently in office. The Democratic candidates previously targeted were Jessa Lewis who’s running for Senate against Rep. Jeff Holy (R-Spokane) in the 6th Legislative District, Erin Frasier who is challenging Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) in Southwest Washington’s 19th LD, and Connie FitzPatrick of Port Orchard who seeks to unseat Rep. Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor) in the 26th LD.
Lewis, Frasier and FitzPatrick have all earned the WSLC’s endorsement and, as in Entenman’s case, the primary results indicate all three races are very close. For example, Frasier was just 136 votes behind the GOP’s Walsh in the August vote.
Glen Morgan is a former staffer of the right-wing Freedom Foundation who is known for filing hundreds of PDC complaints against Democratic candidates, unions and progressive groups. Morgan admitted to The Seattle Times that he supports the Republicans in these races, and his PDC filings make clear that the expenditures are in opposition to the Democratic women, not in support of electing “real progressives.”
Morgan’s PAC is financed by something called “Send a Message PAC” that is funded almost exclusively by Peter Zieve, a Mukilteo aerospace company executive who was a major donor of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Last year, Zieve entered into a consent decree with the state Attorney General’s Office that required his company to pay $485,000 and remove Zieve from its direct hiring process after his company violated state law by discriminating on the basis of religion and marital status. A Seattle Times story had revealed “a workplace culture shaped by President Peter Zieve’s vehement views — expressed in emails to employees that referred to ‘terrorist savages’ and allowing our ‘wonderful country to be backfilled with rubbish from the desperate and criminal populations of the third world.'”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, both Morgan and Zieve have exclusively supported Republicans with their campaign contributions.
In response to the fake postcards, the Washington State Labor Council plans to step up its grassroots voter education campaigns in the targeted districts. Union members and their families are urged to review the WSLC’s candidate-comparison fliers that showed why candidates like Entenman, Lewis, Frasier and FitzPatrick have earned their union’s endorsement in the election.
► ALSO SEE in today’s Spokesman-Review — Dirty-tricks mailer is the season’s deepest plunge into the muck (by Shawn Vestal) — Glen Morgan just became the season’s stinkiest cannonballer. Morgan, a conservative gadfly from Olympia who paints himself as a transparency activist, has produced a series of incredibly dishonest mailers intended to trick Democrats into writing in other candidates – an effort to drain away liberal votes to benefit Republican candidates. In doing so, he lied outright about the endorsements of Fuse Washington and several other progressive groups.