More poor judgment at the Elections office -- using public resources to advertise its bureaucrats. And the result also reveals poor judgment and questionable ethics over at the P-I.
Spokeswoman Bobbie Egan wasn't just providing information to the public, she was also essentially orchestrating a political campaign at taxpayer expense, using the "bipartisan" duo of campaign consultants Cathy Allen and Randy Pepple.
Egan: It is important for our leadership to be seen and heard and to be recognized by media during this time when we are w/o a permanent director.One of the results of this effort was Huff's Nov. 5 "My First Job" item in the Seattle Times:
Simmi Singh [Hill and Knowlton]: ... as soon as you secure windows availability for Sherrill and yourself ... please let me know so we can reach out to the selected radio personalities/columnists we discussed for scheduling on-air time as well as briefings.
Looking forward to acting on some of these tactics and working with you further.
As a public servant for more than 20 years, not a day goes by that I am not reminded to treat others with kindness and respect.[Sadly, Huff doesn't have much kindness or respect for people who raise legitimate concerns about election administration]. Egan and her assistants used their work time to place the item with the Times and to write the copy (here, here and here), while Cathy Allen's firm arranged the photography.
One of the columnists who was selected to help advertise Sherril Huff to the public was Susan Paynter of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. This October 25 e-mail suggests that Egan or one of the campaign consultants had reached out to Paynter to write a column about Sherril Huff.
Paynter's column about Huff was published on October 27: "The elections-cleanup woman gets our vote". It includes a glowing quote:
Democratic consultant Cathy Allen, for one, is happy to know things are now well in hand. "In the 8th, it's now at about 47 to 49 -- well within the margin of error," she said.The column doesn't mention Allen's business relationship with the Elections Office, so I asked Paynter if she knew about it. Her reply:
So, in a tight one, it would be nice to know that this woman will be in charge of making sure it all works. That the place is run by a cool, calm, election-savvy woman who has been working well below the radar."
It's my understanding that, since something like 2004, Democratic political consultant Cathy Allen and Republican consultant Randy Pepple have run focus groups together at the request of King County elections, as requested by Dean Logan. The intent has been to gather bipartisan feedback on election issues and woes. At the time I contacted Allen for a quote she was in no way working for or advocating for Huff-Menees in any manner whatsoever.That last bit is clearly not true. According to her explanation, Paynter didn't seem to know the full extent of Allen's work as a publicist for the Elections Office. (Did Allen not disclose this to Paynter?) But Paynter did know that Allen had been on the payroll of King County Elections, and still quoted her without mentioning this fact. That doesn't strike me as very good judgment on Paynter's part.
Now Paynter's column is being used by the Executive to help make the case for Huff's appointment.
The final irony is that Paynter apparently had a problem voting in November, less than two weeks after her puff-piece about Huff appeared. Maybe if the Elections Office focused its efforts on improving procedures instead of on media campaigns to show-off their bureaucrats, Paynter and others might have had a better voting experience.Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at May 11, 2007 12:45 PM | Email This