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Spin Control

Straub attorney statements on Cotton controversy

In today's paper, we have a story about Spokane Mayor David Condon knew in April that a female city employee accused former police Chief Frank Straub of sexual harassment because he had “grabbed her ass, tried to kiss her.”

Straub's attorney, Mary Schultz, has been busy today responding to media requests for comments. 

Here's her first statement, sent to us at 8 p.m. last night:

I’ve not had the opportunity to review all of this as my power has been down, but I can certainly comment on is what you wrote. Your article provides some interesting information.

First, why is Ms. Cotton releasing her own statement to the press?  Is she still at the City? If so, then whose version is her statement?

Second, it appears that Ms. Cotton hired the very Attorney who repeatedly sues the City, and that Attorney ended up begging for $13,000. A letter from a lawyer saying “I just might file a tort claim and if I do it will go something like this….[insert histrionic unfounded but wildly salacious accusations here] unless you give me $13,000” means just about what it says.

Third, per your report, Ms. Cotton appears to have turned a group reprimand over poor performance into threatening the City with “my transfer into a new position has to be viewed as an advancement..”

If there was any investigation into this effort at job advancement, we haven’t gotten it. Chief Straub never even saw these letters. If there was any claim filed, I haven’t seen it. If Ms. Cotton has “texts” as she states to Sanders, where are they? I’ve seen one  “atta boy love ya” text. It went out to her and others in the midst of a major investigation. As I recall, Ms. Cotton sent out some statement even on that release claiming it made her feel uncomfortable.

This is preposterous—this is a salacious and methodical diversion by the City from the real issue. If the City gave Ms. Cotton a “job advancement” because she springboarded from a reprimand into a new job description by threatening false claims of harassment, then that has nothing to do with merit, and everything to do with why Spokane is now seen nationally as a City that can’t keep its police chiefs. 

Earlier today, she sent this to Jeff Humphreys at KXLY:

Per our call, the reporting of salacious and frivolous claims as if they were true, and as if they were the cause of Chief Straub’s termination, does a disservice to us all. Frank Straub was a mandated reformer hired by the Mayor to come in and clean up a dysfunctional and cliquish department. Frank relocated here and went to work on that mandate. He discovered an administration that was simply too weak to stand behind him through the inevitable clashes that would result. Nowhere in the real world do managers get fired for complaints that are never investigated, complaints that are never found to have a shred of merit, and complaints that are never even disclosed properly to the person accused. Frank ended up abandoned by the very administration who mandated him to dive in there and clean it up.

The media’s schadenfreude approach is beneath Spokane’s spirit as a community. It does not reflect what we can and must be able to offer to any now (and once again) new Chief who looks at this relentlessly unruly situation and considers their own options.

If there was any investigation into Ms. Cotton’s effort at job advancement, we haven’t received it. If there was any claim filed, we haven’t seen it. If Ms. Cotton has incriminating texts, as she states to Sanders, where are they?  Chief Straub never even saw these now released “hypothetical complaint” letters. The real issue is this--if the City gave Ms. Cotton a job advancement because she springboarded into it from a supervisor’s reprimand by threatening the City with false claims of harassment, then what happened to Frank Straub has nothing to do with merit, and everything to do with why Spokane will be seen nationally as a City that can’t keep its police chiefs. 

And to Lindsay Nadrich at KREM:

I just saw the mayor’s statement posted on your site.

My take:

Mayor Condon has now confirmed that he never investigated any of these damaging accusations,  gave his word to an accusing employee that he wouldn’t investigate their accusations, gave the accuser what they asked for without question, and then publically denied all of it.  

Mayor Condon assures us that he will continue to protect the feelings of an accuser who won’t allow their claims to be investigated, and throw our City Police Chief under the bus instead. And he will continue to extend this same opportunity to any police department employee who approaches him with similar accusations. So everyone just line up.

Now that’s the kind of leadership Spokane needs. 



Nicholas Deshais
Joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He is the urban issues reporter, covering transportation, housing, development and other issues affecting the city. He also writes the Getting There transportation column and The Dirt, a roundup of construction projects, new businesses and expansions. He previously covered Spokane City Hall.

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