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‘This is dirty politics at its absolute lowest’

State Republican operatives target female Democratic challengers with fake union postcards in effort to protect GOP incumbents 


OLYMPIA (Oct. 20, 2018) — As voters received their election ballots this week, state Republican Party operatives have sent union members and progressive voters fake election postcards in key Washington state legislative races that urge voters to write in the names of people not seeking the office, with the goal of boosting the Republican candidates in those races.

The fake postcards (posted here) — which read, “It’s time to write in a real progressive” — include the logos of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and several other unions and progressive groups, suggesting that these organizations want their members to write in names of former Democratic candidates not running for election this year, rather than voting for the Democratic candidates actually endorsed in 2018 by those groups.

“This is dirty politics at its absolute lowest,” said David Groves, spokesman for the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which will pursue legal action against the parties involved. “We are calling on the state’s Republican Party, and the Republican lawmakers on whose behalf this was done, to disavow this shameless and reprehensible campaign. Meanwhile, we are redoubling our efforts to make sure that our rank-and-file members know which candidates have truly earned their union’s support.”(See the WSLC’s endorsement list.)

According to Public Disclosure Commission reports, the fake postcards have exclusively targeted Democratic women who are challenging Republican men currently in office. The Democratic candidates targeted are 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 been endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council and 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.

The fake postcards are the work of an Olympia-based PAC called “Conscience of the Progressives” run by Glen Morgan, 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 Lewis, Frasier and FitzPatrick have earned their union’s endorsement in the election.

MORE from the Seattle Times — Conservative political group mailer called ‘blatant voter suppression’ by Democratic leaders — The campaign mailers recently sent out in at least two Washington’s state legislative districts look like a pitch to Democratic voters to elect a progressive candidate. But they come from a conservative political action committee, and ask voters to write-in alternative candidates in close races that will help determine the margins of power in Olympia.

MORE from the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review — Ads from independent group urging Pakootas write-in called ‘stunningly misleading’ — A campaign mailer urging Democrats to cast a write-in vote for the state Senate in Spokane’s 6th District race is being denounced as “stunningly misleading” by an organization that has its logo displayed on the ad but had nothing to do with it.

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