Kemper Freeman must have a lot to lose on Election Day. A campaign mail piece that he sent to Bellevue voters this week, smearing progressive city council candidate John Stokes, reeks of desperation. Freeman had a difficult time finding filth to throw at Stokes, who is running against Freeman’s chosen candidate, Aaron Laing, so he dug up a couple of small infractions and weaved them together with innuendo to create an unusually dirty hit piece for a local race.
Why is Freeman so desperate to damage John Stokes’ reputation?
Does it have to do with light rail — which Kemper wants to kill and Stokes publicly supports? Or is it because Stokes has a vision for Bellevue that covers more than just Kemper’s downtown domain?
In his written rebuttal to the smear, Stokes asks if Freeman is afraid of his “independence and dedication to represent all of Bellevue, not just their [Freeman’s] interests?”
Freeman and two other Bellevue developers created the “Eastside Leadership” political action committee and funded it with $69,000, using almost $23,000 of the funds against Stokes and another like-minded city council candidate, Claudia Balducci, who is seeking reelection.
Another developer behind “Eastside Leadership” is Robert Wallace, the father of Bellevue council member Kevin Wallace. Kevin’s part of the council contingent that prefers a different light rail alignment from the alignment that Bellevue already agreed upon with Sound Transit. This controversy has delayed construction by a year so far. Kevin has also endorsed Stokes’ opponent, Aaron Laing.
Freeman’s hit piece implies that Stokes has never been a licensed attorney, when the truth is that he practiced law as a licensed attorney for forty years.
It implies that Stokes is hiding something, and refers to a legal complaint made against him twenty years ago that was addressed.
The mailer also claims that he is being investigated for “multiple campaign law violations,” which refers to a misfiling of campaign expenditures which has already been corrected. This hardly constitutes “a problem with professional misconduct” as the mailer claims.
Kemper Freeman is a very powerful special interest not only in Bellevue, but across the state. Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 is on the ballot thanks to his largess. Now, Freeman is trying to have his way with the Bellevue city council. The possibility that John Stokes may win has him rattled and he’s taking no chances. His slimy attack on John Stokes’ reputation is pure desperation.