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Police probe alleged attempt to extort GOP state lawmaker

An alleged extortion attempt involving a state lawmaker and a reputed male prostitute is under investigation by Spokane police.

Details surrounding the case remained sketchy Sunday, but authorities confirmed that it involves two-term state Rep. Richard Curtis, a Republican from the southwest Washington town of La Center, and there was some type of confrontation last week at Davenport Tower. The identity of the alleged extortionist was unavailable, though police confirm he is a reputed prostitute.

No arrests had been made as of Friday, said police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe.

“I know that detectives have been working the case all weekend,” DeRuwe said. “Once the case is complete, we anticipate sending the case to the prosecutor’s office for a charging decision.”

Attempts to reach Curtis by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful Sunday afternoon and evening. A message on the home phone number listed in legislative directories said the line could not currently receive calls.

It was unclear Sunday what types of extortion demands allegedly were being made. Also unclear is the nature of the relationship between Curtis and the reputed prostitute.

State GOP lawmakers were in Spokane Wednesday through Friday for a retreat to discuss the upcoming legislative session, said Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee.

He said most who attended the meeting stayed at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park. He said he visited with Curtis “a number of times” at the Red Lion and assumed he was staying there, too.

“I didn’t know of anyone who stayed at the Davenport,” Armstrong said. “My first thought is that it must be a mistake.”

Rep. Lynn Schindler, R-Spokane, said she sat next to Curtis during one of the events. She also said she had not heard about the alleged crime.

“It doesn’t fit the profile of the person I know,” she said. “That kind of surprises me from his dealings with me.”

Elected to the state House of Representatives in 2004, Curtis has voted like a fiscal and social conservative. This spring, he voted against domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. Last year, he opposed a gay rights bill that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a member of the state gambling commission, Curtis has criticized gambling. He has opposed using state dollars to provide health care for children of illegal immigrants.

He has earned generally low marks from Washington Conservation Voters, the abortion rights group NARAL and the AFL-CIO. The National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business group, gives him a perfect score.

Curtis’s online legislative biography says he owns a business that “provides instruction for advanced cardiac life support” at a Vancouver, Wash., hospital. It also says he is a fire captain and paramedic for the Vancouver Fire Department.

A man who answered the phone at the department Sunday, however, said Curtis is no longer employed there.

The biography says he is an Air Force veteran and refers to him as a husband, father and former La Center city councilman. He is from New Mexico and moved to southwest Washington 11 years ago, the biography says.