OLYMPIA -- First former Sen. Cheryl Pflug criticized the appointment of Dino Rossi to her old seat (which was his seat before it was hers).
Then State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur criticized Pflug for criticizing the appointment.
Today, Pflug fires back at Wilbur in an "open letter."
True, this is the 5th Legislative District, which is in eastern suburban King County, so it's far away from Spokane. But the 5th used to be one of our districts, back before the 1991 redistricting snatched it away and plunked it down in Pugetopolis.
And besides, it's a pretty interesting fight.
The text of Wilbur's press release, and Pflug's letter, are inside the blog. Click here to read them, or to comment, or both.
Kirbly Wilbur press release from 4:30 p.m., July 10.
WSRP Chairman Comments on Rossi Appointment
Bellevue, WA – Washington State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur released the following statement this afternoon:
“The process that appointed Dino Rossi to Cheryl Pflug’s old seat was open and honest, the exact same way it was when Cheryl was appointed to her Senate seat in 2003. For her to criticize this transparent appointment process, given how sneaky and deceitful it was for her to make a backroom deal for a cushier position as a bureaucrat, makes her a hypocrite - plain and simple
“Having Dino in place as a solid Republican will allow the 5th district to finally be represented by someone who reflects their values. Dino is the perfect caretaker for this seat. He doesn’t intend to run for office and he has extensive experience in the Legislature should they be called into another special session. This was a smart, good, grass roots decision for the 5th district and I fully support it. Cheryl should keep her irrelevant thoughts to herself – no one cares.”
An Open Letter from Cheryl Pflug, 2:14 p.m., July 11
As I leave office, I have the unique opportunity to speak out, from an insider's viewpoint, about the unfortunate processes by which decisions are too frequently made by in your government, ostensibly for your benefit. Those who believe that the end justifies the means are likely thrilled by the appointment of Rossi to fill my vacancy. Those who, like me, have come to believe that the means defines the end may be more interested in the game by which the end game is being played out.
Succinctly, this is about putting the proverbial lipstick on a pig. Republicans know that their candidate, encouraged by a pharmaceutical lobbyist and Wilbur and now promoted by the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, is an inferior candidate. Toft has a long history of disreputable behavior, and a current history of trying to cover it up - including intimidation those who seek to expose him. Yet they act together to promote him to an unwitting populace. It's wrong, and I told them ahead of time that I would not suffer it silently.
I've tried to minimize the rant that wants to slip out because of my strong feelings about about politicians who treat the electorate disrespectfully, here by concealing and misrepresenting. Instead let me respond to likely questions/assumptions. This is not sour grapes. I leave office in good standing, not voted or pushed out of office, to accept a great opportunity as a graduating law student/bar candidate. And I haven't "flipped" to become a Democrat. I believe in the Republican platform, emphasizing accountable government and individual freedoms, and I will be voting for Rob McKenna precisely because his integrity and wisdom will hopefully preclude this type of manipulation of the people in the future.
Grassroots Republicans do not show up for meetings, doorbell, donate, and put up signs for candidates with the expectation that those candidates will quietly sell out to corporate lobbyists and personally-beneficial tax decisions. I take this action precisely because I came from the Republican grassroots, and I now return to the Republican grassroots. I know for a fact that Democrats have similar issues, but I'm a Republican and I believe that you clean your own house first. Further, in elected office my first loyalty is to the people I represent, regardless of their party affiliation. That is why I chose the term "Independent Republican" when I filed for re-election this year.*
Yes, Kirby Wilbur is frustrated by my refusal to follow him instead of my conscience on some issues. Here's the deal: I was elected to decide on behalf of the 5th District, and Wilbur was not. Suggesting that Wilbur, or any partisan leader, has a right to direct the vote of duly elected representatives is to suggest corrupting our Government of the People. Now, not many care what Wilbur thinks. His "Pflug you!" response clearly undermines his pretense of standing for "family values." Further, his many conspiratorial accusations are silly because they fly in the face of the facts and timelines involved. I voted for marriage equality 7 weeks before I even thought to apply for the GMHB position. I didn't wait to tell the Party that I had a new offer and would be withdrawing my candidacy. I called within 2 minutes of the governor's offer, and my phone records affirm that. Yet, as long as the hyperbole was mostly directed at my reputation, I chose to let it go.
I am speaking out after Rossi's appointment, initially thwarted by skeptical Councilmembers, because it is the next step in the campaign to get Toft into the Senate. No one seriously believes that Rossi is there to do my constituent work for 5 months. There were certainly other, better "caretakers." I believe Rossi is there to use his stature as Senator to lend credibility to Toft and to continue to work his "friends" for money and endorsements. His appointment also effectively shut out a write-in campaign by another Republican with credibility.
An arrogant Toft once told me that he thought I was tired. I do tire of good people doing nothing, and of abuses that need to be stopped. I do not tire of being a committed American citizen - one with 14 years of experience behind those closed doors. My time in the Legislature was an amazing opportunity and I am grateful to the hundreds of thousands of people that I have had the honor to represent. I feel I owe you this candor.
Today's inside backlash is instructive, "What is she thinking? She'll be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life!" Are they serious? It was OK to accuse me of corruption, of selling my soul, to take my children's name as a verb, and to openly declare that they would “burn Pflug to discredit Mullet?” Yet if I speak the truth, which media investigation will soon confirm, I should live in fear of retaliation? Such abuse of power only stops when you put your grown-up pants on, look the bullies in the eye, and call their bluff. I call.
* Ironically, this was actually suggested as an option by the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. Yet Kirby Wilbur used it as an excuse to keep Rep. Glenn Anderson from even speaking at the Republican State Convention as a candidate for Attorney General. In a further irony, Wilbur just announced his endorsement of Bill Finkbeiner for that position - forgetting, I guess, that Finkbeiner was the only Republican in either chamber to vote to make gender-preference a protected status. Behind closed doors, many electeds believe they owe Finkbeiner for past favors from the time when he was Senate Majority Leader. Is this how it should work? Will it get us to Change?