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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Haugen claims she's not friends with the BIAW, but evidence shows otherwise

This weekend the Puget Sound Business Journal ran a great article about the growing rift between the state's meanest, nastiest right wing lobby, the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and its largest local, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, who have been sparring over the former's hardball legislative tactics and fierce allegiance to the Republican Party.

The spat become public earlier this year when BIAW went after the local, attacking it in its newsletter for deciding to hire its own lobbyist. More recently, BIAW's board escalated tensions by voting to cut off any local that hires its own lobbyist from BIAW's cash cow: its industrial insurance pool, which actually turns a profit for BIAW by exploiting the state's retrospective ratings program on the backs of its member-builders. (The State Senate passed legislation to end retro abuse earlier this year, but House Speaker Frank Chopp did not bring it to the floor for a vote).

Several lawmakers were interviewed for the article, including Republican Dan Roach and two Democrats who are close to the building industry: Representative Larry Springer and Senator Mary Margaret Haugen.

There was nothing particularly newsworthy about Springer's quote (he called the rift "counterproductive" - sure, if you're an ally of the BIAW, it's counterproductive) but Haugen brazenly claimed she prefers one side over the other.
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, said she has worked with the Master Builders and found them reasonable.

"The Master Builders have far more credibility..." she said. "I won’t let BIAW in my office."
Haugen would have us believe, with those seven words, that she's no friend of Tom McCabe and the gang at McCleary Mansion (BIAW's headquarters) but her recent actions indicate that BIAW is in fact welcome in her office. Very welcome. For example, last year, she accepted an eight hundred dollar check from the BIAW's political action committee to her reelection campaign.

Haugen happens to be the person responsible for the death of the Homeowner's Bill of Rights this past legislative session. At the BIAW's behest, she assembled a group of Democratic senators who were prepared to join Republicans in favor of a striker amendment (PDF) offered by her and drafted by the BIAW that would have completely and methodically gutted the bill and its protections for homeowners.

Senate Democratic leadership was subsequently forced to keep the bill off the floor to avert Haugen's poison pill. This guaranteed the legislation's defeat. The BIAW later credited her for this backroom-negotiated win over homeowners in its newsletter:
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano) deserves a lot of credit for recognizing the negative impact this legislation would have had on the housing industry and honest contractors.
For her role in torpedoing the legislation, Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly gave Haugen a new title: Belle of the BIAW.

But evidently Haugen isn't very proud of her association with the BIAW, and is trying to create the impression that she finds the state's meanest right wing lobby as reprehensible as most of the Legislature's progressive Democrats.

That's not going to fly. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words. And Haugen's actions have demonstrated that she is only too willing to do the BIAW's bidding. That she is suggesting her relationship with BIAW doesn't exist only makes her betrayal of Democratic values more shameful and disgusting.


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