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Didier drops Newhouse from lawsuit alleging campaign violations

Washington State Potato Commission director remains as defendant

Congressional candidate Clint Didier has dropped his opponent, Dan Newhouse, from a lawsuit alleging misuse of state resources in the campaign. Didier’s attorney, Stephen Pidgeon, informed U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice of his intention to remove Newhouse from the lawsuit early Thursday, according to court records. Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, remains a defendant in the case scheduled for a court hearing in Spokane on Oct. 29. The Didier campaign says Voigt used his Potato Commission email and a car used for commission business for campaign-related activities in Grant County this summer. Copies of the emails, included in court records, show Voigt emailing other members of the group supporting Newhouse, a former state Department of Agriculture director, and requesting fundraising support as well as volunteers for yard signs. Voigt maintains the emails were sent using a commercially contracted email account and sent on personal time. A portion of his paycheck is deducted monthly for use of the car, according to emails also contained in the lawsuit. Newhouse’s lawyer, Brendan Monahan, sent a letter to Pidgeon on Tuesday alleging the lawsuit was frivolous and including the draft of a response to the initial lawsuit to be filed in federal court requesting attorney’s fees. Monahan argued Didier lacked standing to sue Newhouse under the cited statute because Newhouse was not acting as a state employee when the alleged misconduct occurred. Newhouse campaign spokesman Jim Keough praised the court’s decision Thursday. “This dismissal proves that this has been a frivolous lawsuit by Mr. Didier and his campaign to attempt to distract the voters from his extreme views,” Keough said. Didier’s spokesman, Larry Stickney, said the dismissal was a procedural matter and the campaign still contends election violations took place. “We’re still hoping for some justice here,” he said. Ballots are already being mailed in the race between two Republicans vying to replace Rep. Doc Hastings, who has endorsed Newhouse in the campaign. Didier, a former NFL quarterback, has earned the backing of former Sen. Rick Santorum and vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.
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