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In brief: Group Health backs gay marriage law

Group Health Cooperative has entered the political fray, endorsing a state ballot measure in support of gay marriage.

It’s the latest endorsement of Referendum 74 by an influential private company. Microsoft Corp., Starbucks, and Boeing Co. also have endorsed the new state law allowing marriage between same-sex couples.

Voters will determine the hotly contested issue, upholding a state law created earlier this year, in the Nov. 6 election.

Rick Santorum, who withdrew from the Republican presidential primary earlier this year after a spirited run against candidate Mitt Romney, is appearing in Spokane today to raise money against R-74.

Group Health’s 11-member board of trustees called its vote to support R-74 “an important aspect of creating equal access to care.”

Cantwell far ahead in fundraising

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell raised more than three times as much money for her re-election campaign in the last quarter as her Republican challenger, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, raised in his effort to unseat her.

The Cantwell campaign reported last week she had raised more than $1 million in the three-month reporting period that ended Sept. 30. That brought her total to about $11.5 million for this election cycle, and she has about $2 million on-hand for the last five weeks of the campaign.

The Baumgartner campaign said Monday he raised almost $312,000 in that same three-month period, which would bring his total contributions for the campaign to slightly more than $1 million. Totals for expenses aren’t yet available, a campaign spokeswoman said.

Spokane man dies in Montana crash

HELENA – A car collided with a pickup truck on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana, killing a Spokane man and injuring five others.

The Montana Highway Patrol said a 46-year-old woman from Spokane was northbound on Montana Highway 28 south of the Hot Springs turnoff at 10:39 a.m. Sunday when her car drifted off the right side of the road. She overcorrected and the car traveled into the southbound lane, where it collided with an oncoming pickup.

A 21-year-old man from Spokane died of his injuries. The driver and another passenger were taken to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula with critical injuries, KCFW-TV reported. Their names had not been released.

The 66-year-old Columbia Falls, Mont., man driving the pickup and his two passengers also were injured.

Worker falls from Columbia bridge

LONGVIEW, Wash. – A worker who fell 200 feet from a Longview, Wash., bridge into the Columbia River is presumed dead.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said another worker saw the man fall Sunday from a platform under the middle of the Lewis and Clark Bridge, which connects with Rainier, Ore.

On Monday, sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig identified the man as 40-year-old Charles William Wiley Jr., of Mississippi. Rosenzweig said he did not know the man’s hometown. He has not been found.

The Sheriff’s Office said it’s not known how or why the safety equipment that Wiley was wearing did not prevent his fall. He was described as experienced and safety conscious. The Sheriff’s Office is coordinating its investigation with the state Department of Labor and Industries.

The Transportation Department said the man was part of a rigging crew that was installing paint platforms.

FBI destroys suspicious device

SEATTLE – A suspicious device destroyed by an FBI bomb squad outside the downtown Seattle FBI building appeared to be a flashlight with a blinking red light.

Spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said it was not explosive or hazardous and no threat had been made to the agency.

The suspicious device was spotted by building guards about 2 a.m. Monday. Seattle police closed streets around the Abraham Lincoln Building at Third and Seneca until the device was destroyed around 5 a.m. by the bomb squad.

The building is not marked as an FBI field office and there’s no indication whether the device was left on the sidewalk accidentally or intentionally.