1. There's yet another barb in the spat between the U.S. Department of Justice and Mayor Mike McGinn's office over the genesis and formation of the Community Police Commission (the DOJ sent a letter out this week pushing back on McGinn's campaign theme that he fought for the idea of the community oversight group).

Native American community member Chris Stearns, a past chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission and current member of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition Task Force, pointed to a document the MEDC sent on April 2, 2012 to both the mayor and the DOJ outlining many of the ideas that would eventually show up in the CPC agreement in the summer of 2012.

(Background: The DOJ sent a recommendation to the city on March 20, 2012 that included an outline for community engagement in any final police oversight agreement and subsequently—on May 16—reprimanded the city for not including a community aspect in its proposal. Stearns' group was also angry at the mayor. When the plan was finally announced at a press conference on July 27, 2012, however, the DOJ credited McGinn with the CPC idea.)

On Tuesday night, after the most recent televised mayoral debate at which, picking up on the DOJ's suggestion that McGinn release background documents on the CPC deal, McGinn's challenger, state Sen. Ed Murray, asked McGinn to release them, (McGinn said he would and PubliCola has done a public records request for them), Stearns emailed the media to tout the MEDC's role.

Stearns wrote (bolds ours):

As you know, US Attorney Jenny Durkan sent a letter to the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC) on October 21, 2013 pushing back on the idea that the CPC was solely the Mayor’s idea.  The letter points to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) March 30, 2012 proposed settlement and the lack of response from the City to that proposal.  Durkan writes that the City’s eventual response in May was so weak that it almost derailed negotiations.  The City response did not include any community engagement.  What should be noted in the genesis of the CPC was the fact that the Minority Executive Directors Coalition had formed a police accountability task force that had provided a detailed set of recommendations (attached) to both the Mayor and the DOJ on April 2, 2012.  Those recommendations on Page 4 included the following:
 

•“Well-trained and financially supported oversight professionals will be selected from among community members to oversee the handling of the Consent Decree (CD).
•“The City shall invite the community to provide input prior to the implementation of the Consent Decree.
•“The Multi-Racial Task Force on Police Accountability (MTFPA) shall be charged with oversight of police reform.
•“The independent monitor shall be selected and agreed upon by the DOJ, the MTFPA, and the City of Seattle, and shall be advised by a panel of community group representatives.
•“Community groups shall participate in the implementation of the CD.”
 
The point that cannot be overlooked is that while the CPC was hammered out behind the scenes (no community representatives were present despite our repeated requests) but clearly in response to community driven ideas.

2. The Washington State Republican Party has filed a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission against liberal San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer.

Steyer is the rich environmental activist who, through his NextGen Climate Action Committee, has put $250,000 directly into another committee, the She's Changed PAC, that's working to defeat state Rep. Jan Angel (R-26, Port Orchard) in her state senate bid against incumbent Democrat Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-26, Gig Harbor).

The She's Changed PAC has also gotten big contributions from the Washington Conversation Voters and the senate Democrats' fund (the Kennedy Fund), which, in turn, have gotten big checks from Steyer's NexGen PAC. For example, WCV's PAC has gotten $275,000 from NextGen and they've put $150,000 into the She's Changed PAC. Overall, it appears that Steyer, either directly, or through other PACs, has put $455,000 into the anti-Angel She's Changed PAC, which itself has spent more than $1 million against Rep. Angel.

Rep. Angel and Sen. Schlicher are locked in an off-year election battle that could reconfigure the state senate and put the GOP firmly in control.

There's cetainly a reason that a green like Steyer—recently profiled in the New Yorker for his crusade to fight global warming—is against Angel. She has an 11 percent lifetime voting record with the WCV for a parade of bad votes on the environment.

Rep. Angel and Sen. Schlicher are locked in an off-year election battle (Schlicher was appointed to the seat last year after former state Sen. Derek Kilmer was elected to the U.S. Congress) that could reconfigure the state senate and put the GOP firmly in control.

The GOP's complaint isn't about Steyer's three-card monte contributions, though. It's about a new $3 million contribution that he put into NextGen last Friday. State election law prohibits contributions over $5,000 in the final 21 days of a campaign. (The screen shot below shows Steyer's October 18 $3 million contribution.)

New GOP state chair Susan Hutchison said in a statement:

Senator Nathan Schlicher needs to answer this question: will you repudiate this illegal spending by an outside donor or do you want the people of Pierce and Kitsap County to be represented by someone bought and paid for with illegal out of state money? Which is it? Today I call upon the PDC to do their job and protect the integrity of our election process by filing an injunction to stop Tom Steyer from using his illegally contributed money to attempt to buy the election for Senator Schlicher.

It's not clear that the $3 million is earmarked for the Angel/Schlicher race, though, because Steyer's NextGen PAC, which has raised $9 million, is registered as an ongoing committee rather than a committee tied to a specific campaign year. Additionally, much of its spending to date appears to be on unrelated out-of-state efforts. "The complaint has no merit. We are supremely confident we are in full compliance [with state election law]," Matthew Lewis, a spokesman for NextGen Climate Action Committee told PubliCola. "Angel is trying to distract from the issues."

Maybe. But Public Disclosure Commission spokeswoman Lori Anderson was "personally skeptical" that the Next Future Action Generation League, or whatever their name is, could make the case that they were exempt from PDC guidelines given, she said, that they're registered as a local committee with the PDC and have been filing financial reports all along.

There is, she said, an out-of-state committee category, but to file under that classification, your committee has to have existed and operated out of state for at least two years (NextGen was founded in California in late 2012) and spent less than 80 percent of your expenditures in Washington.

John Wyble, a consultant with Sen. Schlicher's campaign itself, which is legally prohibited from coordinating with independent expenditures like Steyer's, says he trusts everyone is following the campaign finance laws.

UPDATE: In an official press statement this morning, NextGen's Lewis said: "Jan Angel is trying to distract from her positions that are harmful to the health of kids and families in Washington. Our lawyers spoke with the Public Disclosure Commission prior to making the contribution and they agreed that the 21-day rule does not apply to FEC registered committees. We are in full compliance with all Washington election laws."

3. And in case you missed it, Erica had a long piece yesterday afternoon about Mars Hill Church and their standoff with Sound Transit over some land on the Eastside.

4. Also: We've got a new commenting system (three cheers for that).

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