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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 14, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 15
Republicans pile on: GOP operative files ethics charges against Ed Murray

Ethics Board dismisses complaint
Section One
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Republicans pile on: GOP operative files ethics charges against Ed Murray

Ethics Board dismisses complaint

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Just when things couldn't have gotten worse for Seattle mayor Ed Murray, they did.

On April 8, less than 48 hours after the Seattle Times broke the story accusing Murray of child abuse, former Republican operative Christopher Clifford filed ethics charges against the mayor.

At issue was a small detail in the Times story. Noting that Murray had been accused of similar behavior in 2008, the newspaper reported that at that time he'd hired a lawyer, Katherine Heekin, and paid her out of his surplus campaign funds.

That, Clifford charged, is illegal, so he filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

According to the PDC, there is a five-year statute of limitations on campaign finance complaints, so they will not investigate charges based on actions taken in 2008.

The law itself is ambiguous. Elected officials are allowed to use campaign funds for a 'nonreimbursed public office related expense.'

That includes expenses 'incurred by an elected or appointed official, or a member of his or her immediate family, solely because of being an official,' and, had the charges proceeded to a formal investigation, Murray could have argued that he was being accused only because he was - at that time - a state legislator.

In fact, Murray's attorney responded to the current accusations in exactly that way - saying that the current allegations are 'politically motivated.'

Clifford himself has a litigious history. He has sued to block enforcement of the state's Shoreline Management Act, to recall former Port Commissioner Pat Davis, and to prevent former King County Elections Director Sherill Huff from running for office.

Clifford is a self-described ally of current Pierce County Councilmember Pam Roach, best known as the pistol-packing state senator who consistently voted against LGBT rights in her 26 years in the legislature.

After working as Roach's legislative aide, Clifford then went to work for another bombastic Republican legislator, Don Benton, later chair of the Washington State GOP.

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