Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dino Rossi resigns from his foundation

Dino Rossi's "Forward Washington" Foundation has just announced that Rossi is resigning as President. He will be replaced by Dan McDonald.

Here's the text of the release:
Ted Dahlstrom, Executive Director of the Forward Washington Foundation, announced today that Dan McDonald has been named the new President of the Foundation, replacing Dino Rossi. McDonald, a Bellevue engineer and former Senate Majority Leader and Ways and Means Chairman, also sits on the Foundation's board.

Mr. Rossi resigned as President effective September 11, 2007. According to Mr. Dahlstrom, the announcement was delayed until today in order to give the Foundation enough time to find a replacement and for Mr. Rossi to transition out of his role as President.

"The Governor's political agents filed a baseless complaint with the Public Disclosure Foundation (PDC) against our non-partisan Foundation. It is baseless because we were informed, in writing, by the PDC that as long as the Foundation did not expend funds to lobby or influence elections we would not be subject to PDC regulation - and we have never engaged in those activities," said Dahlstrom.

"But the complaint has hurt our fundraising and would have made it impossible for the Foundation to focus on its mission successfully if Dino had remained as President. They may have achieved their goal of hurting the Foundation - but they will not stop us."

Mr. Rossi added, "I said when the Foundation was formed that I want it to remain active regardless of what happens in my life. As such, the best thing I can do right now is to remove myself as President."

He continued, "I understand that people are going to read whatever they so choose into this announcement, but the fact remains that I have not decided nor declared that I will be a candidate for Governor in 2008. My wife and I will assess if my running for Governor is right for us and our four children, and for the next month or so I will also be assessing the depth of support among people throughout the state. When both those factors are resolved, I will make a decision and an announcement, one way or the other."

"While I am sad to see Dino leave," said Mr. Dahlstrom, "I am grateful for all the hard work he put into creating the Foundation and growing it into what it is today: a non-partisan educational foundation committed to improving the business climate for small- and medium-sized businesses in our state."

He added, "I am excited to work with Dan as we continue the great work the Foundation has accomplished in its short existence."

"I am honored that the Foundation decided to choose me to replace Dino as President," said Mr. McDonald. "While I obviously have some very large shoes to fill, I will do my best to further implement the vision Dino had to create a non-partisan advocate for the small business community."
The emphasis in bold is mine.

This announcement is typically complete with all the nice touches that characterize a Dino Rossi release or speech. For example, the reference to the Washington State Democrats as "the governor's political agents" (one could say the same of Rossi's surrogates at the state GOP and the BIAW) or the saintly depiction of his own campaign organization as a "nonpartisan educational foundation". Uh huh. To call that stretch would be putting it mildly.

Forward Washington looks and behaves like a partisan political operation because it is the vehicle of a past Republican gubernatorial candidate who is mulling a second run for the most powerful elected office in the state of Washington.

If Rossi had set up a foundation to say, promote the inclusion of the State Constitution in school curriculum - some objective that could attract true support from across the political spectrum - that would be different. But the point of his foundation is to push the right wing agenda, wrapped in a business theme. And the right wing agenda is what comprises the platform of the Republican Party.

Rossi's foundation stands for the same values and policy planks that comprised his 2004 campaign for governor as well as his likely 2008 bid. Whether his foundation is skirting campaign finance law is for the Public Disclosure Commission to decide (there's a lot of gray area and the rules are open to interpretation) but the words "nonpartisan educational foundation" do not comprise an accurate description of Rossi's Forward Washington organization.

I do think Rossi's statement about making a decision to run on the basis of whether it's right for his family or not is genuine. From what I've observed, Dino's family really matters to him, and his desire to put them first, even if it means potentially sacrificing his political ambitions, is admirable.

UPDATE: Rich Roesler has more at Eye on Olympia. He's got an interesting tidbit from the 28th LD Republicans - who Rossi spoke to the same day he resigned:
The press isn't telling us these realities because they are aligned with Gregoire's socialist, government control style of governance, but we can spread the word and we must.
Sounds like Rossi's gone off the deep end. Can't wait to hear him repeat this next year. If he doesn't, we'll make sure this kind of rhetoric sticks with him.


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