May 11, 2007
King County Elections E-mails (VII): The marketing of Sherril Huff

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.

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.

One of the results of this effort was Huff's Nov. 5 "My First Job" item in the Seattle Times:
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.

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."

The column doesn't mention Allen's business relationship with the Elections Office, so I asked Paynter if she knew about it. Her reply:
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
1. Bobbie Egan must resign IMMEDIATELY!
Susan Paynter needs to learn to ask the obvious questions about conflicts of interest and stop ASSUMING when it comes to her ideologically congruent pals.
Ever heard of that Susan??

I think lots of folks are still confused that with all this e-mail activity, Sherril Huff only turned over a grand total of 2 sent AND received to you Stefan.
It makes absolutely no sense.
My guess is Huff was in the loop and either DELETED e-mails or did all communicating via phone to avoid Public Records. Both are baaaaaad.
Stefan, have you asked for a search of Huff's "deleted" e-mails??
There has to be more than 2.

Posted by: aaaargh on May 11, 2007 12:59 PM
2. More indications that the Leftstream Media actively runs cover for Democrats in power. I like the fact that the Media is hard on Republicans and Bush. Republicans know they can't get away with much, and that is the proper role of the media. If only they applied the same standards to Democrats. Instead, we get well orchestrated puff pieces, coordinated drumbeats, and groupthink talking points, so that the average Joe starts believing their lies and omissions.

Democrats don't understand that in the long term, it makes sense for them to be just as active in cleaning up elections, because there may come a day when they are not in power. But that's par myopia in the party that won't even consider addressing the soon to collapse Ponzi scheme that is Social Security.

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 11, 2007 01:43 PM
3. Tell me again why it is important to be seen and heard? Aren't you a public servant to be seen and not heard? If you are heard, doesn't that mean you are screwing up?

You don't hear about firemen till there is a fire. Why do we need to hear from staffers unless they are screwing up?

Posted by: swatter on May 11, 2007 01:54 PM
4. I'm still waiting for Paynter and her colleagues in the press to start investigating the following questions:

1. The coincidence that Huff was the mentor of former Elections director, disgraced Dean Logan?

2. Whether it was a case of cronyism when Logan hired Huff as his deputy in 2005?

3. How much money did Sims waste in the facade of a nationwide search through 400 candidates for Logan's replacement, if he was simply going to hire the woman who gave Logan his first taste of politics at age 11, and then gave Logan his first government job out of High School?

Nah, I really don't expect Paynter or anyone at the Times or PI to really dig into this. Everything is just fine in King County as far as they're concerned.

The Times and PI didn't think anything was wrong with Logan's performance in the 2004 election and aftermath, and they certainly won't see anything rotten with his replacement being the mentor, friend, and political ally who probably taught him everything he knew.

Yeah, we're in much better hands now!

Posted by: MJC on May 11, 2007 02:55 PM
5. cha-ching on 3:
doing your job means smooth flows. like Ed Norton in sewer of Honeymooners. keep it moving. no lights camera & action. do your job, Mister & 'maintain'--you want fame? go to Hollywood & bus tables.

freakin primadonnas. ask a hospital burn unit nurse someday about fame. get some humility.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on May 12, 2007 09:34 PM
6. King County is corrupt!

Posted by: dcat on May 13, 2007 01:36 PM
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