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.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Republican Bob Edwards tries to fool progressive Seattleites in Port hit piece

Entrenched Republican Bob Edwards' campaign to win reelection to his nonpartisan seat on the Seattle Port Commission hasn't been going so well. First there were the scandals (including the Dinsmore severance incident) and then there was his embarrassing showing in the primary, where he was bested by Gael Tarleton, who is now challenging him in the general election.

So Edwards and his consultant Michael Grossman, who are desperate to persuade people not to vote for Gael Tarleton, cooked up a hit mailing that tries to link Gael to the Bush administration and the Iraq occupation, via the defense contractor SAIC, where Gael formerly worked. (It's not the first time they've resorted to trickery - earlier this year they bought up a number of domain names, including, hoping to obstruct her campaign).

Front of Bob Edwards Attack Mailer

The front of this mailer features a picture of George W. Bush standing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 with the infamous Mission Accomplished banner behind him. The only text on the front reads:
Gael Tarleton - Port Security from the Company that Bought You the Iraq War
On the inside flap, at the top, it reads:
Now SAIC Wants Gael Tarelton [sic] to Run Security At Our Port.
Under this headline, on the left and right:
[Vanity Fair Logo]

[Vanity Fair Article Headline]: Washington's $8 Billion Shadow

[Vanity Fair Article Excerpt]: Mega-contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel supply the government with brawn. But the biggest, most powerful of the "body shops" - SAIC, which employs 44,000 people and took in $8 billion last year - sells brainpower, including a lot of the "expertise" behind the Iraq war.

by Donald L. Bartlett and James E. Steele | March 2007

[Edwards Campaign]:

Gael Tarleton was a Vice President at SAIC, one of the nation's largest defense contractors, who were responsible for planning and executing the war in Iraq. With millions of dollars in Port security projects on the line, now SAIC is trying to get Tarleton elected to the Port of Seattle.

Check the Sources:
(1) Vanity Fair 3/2007
(2) Center for Public Integrity
(3) Seattle Weekly 7/18/07
(4) Sound Politics 10/8/07
[Seattle Weekly Logo]

[Weekly Headline]: Port Commission Candidate Gael Tarleton's SAIC Backers Could Soon Be Asking Her For Business

[Excerpt 1, Vanity Fair]: Prior to the war, SAIC was awarded seven contracts, together worth more than $100 million, without competitive bidding.

[Excerpt 2, Center for Public Integrity]: Since February 2003, SAIC has been in charge of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, a Pentagon-sanctioned group made up of Iraqis that is effectively functioning as the country's temporary government.

[Excerpt 3, Seattle Weekly]: She once worked for one of the heavyweights in port security technology—a company that's had more than $7 million in contracts at the Seattle port in the past and may vie for more in the future. And her campaign has been generously supported by some of her former colleagues at the company.

[Excerpt 4, unSoundPolitics]: One finds that of the almost $157,000 raised by Tarleton that about $38,000 (or 24%) come from SAIC employees or retirees, as well as individuals living near SAIC offices in California and Arlington, VA.

The bottom of the front inside panel says in large type:
On November 6th, Say No to No-Bid Baghdad Contracts.
The other inside flap has a picture of Bob with a bright seaport backdrop and a fawning quote from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has unfortunately and indefensibly endorsed Edwards.

The back of the mailing has another picture of Bob, except this time shaking hands with Ron Sims, another fawning quote from the Seattle P-I, and a selected list of Bob's most impressive Democratic and nonpartisan endorsements.

So, what about all the shots at Gael?

First of all, any mailing that cites a right wing blog like Sound Politics as a source is not to be trusted by progressive voters. As to the various statements and inferences, they're all nonsense. SAIC didn't instruct Gael to run for Seattle Port Commission... she chose to do that herself, because she cares about our region and she has the background to be a competent commissioner.

Gael left SAIC before the Iraq conflict began and is not a proxy for the company or the defense industry. She is a progressive voice, a leader with a unique life story, and she brings a lot to the table.

It is certainly true that people from SAIC have contributed to Gael's campaign. But if you're running for office, who do you naturally turn to for help first? Your friends and family. That's what Gael did. If she didn't tap her colleagues she wouldn't be much of a fundraiser... and having a war chest is important to winning office. (Hopefully, in the future, we can change that by enacting clean elections legislation).

As for accusations about a conflict of interest, here's what Gael told Kristen Millares Bolt when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer profiled her:
Tarleton said she would recuse herself from commission discussions that veer into arenas involving SAIC's influence and she also said that she sold all of her stock in SAIC.

"Anybody running for public office has a duty to uphold the integrity of the office -- a major problem with our current commission," Tarleton wrote in an e-mail to her campaign base.

"It is also why I would recuse myself on any contracts related to SAIC or the UW. That does not preclude me from leveraging my experience to the benefit of King County taxpayers I seek to serve."
As open-minded progressives, we cannot automatically disqualify somebody like Gael from our consideration because of where they once worked.

What ultimately matters is trust. The question is, can we trust Gael to be a commissioner who looks out for the common wealth and guards the public interest at our Port? Gael has demonstrated that the answer is yes. She's made a promise to recuse herself when business deals involving her clients come up. That's reasonable, fair, and appropriate.

Although the mailing fails to mention this, SAIC has no current contracts with the Port of Seattle (something the Seattle Weekly admitted in its article). SAIC did have contracts with the Port between 2002 and 2004, but they were not for gigantic sums of money. The mailing also fails to mention what Edwards told the Seattle Weekly in the article that it cites as its third source:
Edwards, first elected to the post in 1999, says "I've tried not to pay too much attention to what [my opponents] are saying and doing. I'm sticking to the record of what I've done as Port commissioner," when asked about Tarleton's ties to SAIC.
Tried not to pay much attention?

Well, you obviously are now, Bob. And you're not sticking to your record, either, not with this dishonest hit piece you've produced that essentially implies you're a Democrat and pretends that you're progressive.

Several Democratic activists have confirmed to NPI that they received this mailing. Edwards' campaign apparently targeted Seattle's most liberal legislative districts (including the 43rd and the 36th) in a Rove-style attack. (Karl Rove is known for going after political opponents by taking aim at their strengths).

Bob Edwards, for the record, is a Republican. In the last seven years he has donated to the campaigns of Steve Forbes (2000), Slade Gorton (2000), and Alaska's Don Young (2005). (Curiously, he gave $200 to Maria Cantwell's campaign just after she won election in 2001).

It's no wonder the Washington State Republican Party is providing him with needed cash late in his campaign. The WSRP donated $5,342.40 in a "last-minute" contribution on October 19th, which the PDC received and filed on October 22nd.

As commissioner, Bob Edwards repeatedly voted with the majority bloc that rubber stamped the wishes of ex-CEO Mic Dinsmore, who retired from the Port of Seattle this year. Dinsmore's reputation was notorious for excessive perks, freebies for corporate clients, and involvement in commission elections.

Edwards' record is clear proof that he doesn't share our progressive values and doesn't take the role of the Commission as a legislative body seriously.

We can elect a progressive majority to the Seattle Port Commission this November, but only if we replace Bob Edwards with Gael Tarleton and keep port reform champion Alec Fisken in office. Together with Commissioner Lloyd Hara, the three of them would be a majority on the Port Commmission.

Fisken's opponent, Bill Bryant, is also (for the record) a Republican. Bryant has given generously to the campaigns of George W. Bush (both 2000 and 2004), Mike! McGavick!, Dino Rossi, Dave Reichert, Chris Vance, Diane Tebelius, Michael Crapo, and Mitch McConnell.

The Washington State Republicans have returned the favor by giving Bryant a check for the same amount they gave to Bob Edwards. We know who their slate is, and we know who our candidates are - Alec Fisken and Gael Tarleton.

It's time for reform and progressive leadership at the Port of Seattle. Vote for Alec and Gael on or before November 6th.


Blogger mark said...

Good strategy. I think Seattle Progressives are easily fooled. But I think less of Edwards doing this.

October 25, 2007 10:48 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

This attack by Edwards is as bad as the Iraq buildup. There were WMD at one point. Tarleton was with SAIC at one point. SAIC is like Halliburton. Saddam is like bin Laden. And very oddly using the face of Cheney to run this game, too.

November 2, 2007 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Mike Agney said...

I had no idea who Gael Tarleton or Bob Edwards were until a few days before the election.

Then I got a flyer trying to tie Gael to Halliburton - except on closer inspection, it turned out that she'd never worked for Halliburton at all, but SAIC, which was supposedly "like" Halliburton. Most notably, the flyer had absolutely no indication of who I ought to be voting for, except for "Edwards for Port" in tiny print on the return address.

I smelled a rat, and voted for Gael on Tuesday. Now that I've had time to look more closely, I'm glad I did.

November 8, 2007 3:45 PM  

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