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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Marr ethics complaint dismissed

OLYMPIA -- A complaint that an aide for Sen. Chris Marr improperly used a state computer for campaign purposes was dismissed Wednesday by the Legislative Ethics Board. The computer didn't belong to the state, and it was used by Marr, not his aide, the board concluded.

The complaint was filed by Steven Neill, a supporter of now Senator-elect Mike Baumgartner in October. Neill contended that a campaign e-mail was sent out by Marr legislative aide Barb Bumann on state time and a state computer, and that Marr would thus be guilty of violating the state's campaign law through "knowing acquiescence" of that action.

The ethics staff investigation concluded, however, that Bumann didn't have a state laptop during the 2010 campaign season -- or any other time. As Marr's unpaid campaign treasurer, she did loan the campaign her personal laptop to file reports with the Public Disclosure Commission, and to send out campaign updates. She also gave Marr and some other campaign members the password so they could have access to the laptop; although the e-mails had Bumann's name in the header, both she and Marr said he sent out the campaign e-mails.

"No evidence to the contrary was discovered," the staff said. And the e-mails seem to be written by Marr, because they refer to "I, me and my opponent" and have his cell phone number on it, the staff said.

The complaint was dismissed for "lack of reasonable cause."


The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.