skip navigation
Support KUOW
Listen to KUOW News

Audio not available.

KUOW News on Demand

KUOW News

Sex Offender Notices Latest in GOP Hardball Tactics

Austin Jenkins
01/25/2006

Washington House Democrats call it a 'new low' in state politics. A Republican Political Action Committee sent fake sex offender notifications to voters in key swing districts. The message: Democrats refuse to lock-up violent sex predators. As Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports, this incident reflects a new style of leadership in the House Republican ranks.

REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD DEBOLT OF CHEHALIS IS UNAPOLOGETIC. THE NEWLY ELECTED HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER SAYS HE DIDN'T APPROVE THE SEX OFFENDER POSTCARD BEFORE IT WAS MAILED OUT, BUT DEFENDS THE CONTROVERSIAL TACTIC.

REP. DEBOLT: "When you want to do something and when you want to have a voice as a minority you've got to scream loud and you've got to say this is important to us."

THE POSTCARD WENT TO VOTERS IN SEVEN DEMOCRATIC DISTRICTS - FROM VANCOUVER TO WALLA WALLA. IT WAS STAMPED "SEX OFFENDER NOTIFICATION" ON THE FRONT. ON THE BACK IT SHOWS A PICTURE OF A SEX OFFENDER WITH A HEADLINE THAT READS: "THIS VIOLENT PREDATOR LIVES IN YOUR COMMUNITY." A CAPTION TELLS THE RECIPIENT THEIR DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATOR IS SOFT ON SEX OFFENDERS AND URGES THE VOTER TO CALL OLYMPIA. DEBOLT CLAIMS DEMOCRATS ARE GETTING THE MESSAGE. HE SAYS THEY'RE NOW ADDING REPUBLICAN LANGUAGE TO KEY SEX OFFENDER BILLS.

DEBOLT: "We have moved to the positive. It is a better bill today because of all the activities that have gone on here in Olympia."

THE POSTCARD WAS SENT BY THE SPEAKER'S ROUNDTABLE, THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN'S POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE. IT WAS PART OF A 75-THOUSAND DOLLAR CAMPAIGN, WHICH INCLUDED TV AND RADIO ADS. THE CAMPAIGN COMES IN A YEAR WHEN ALL 98 HOUSE MEMBER ARE UP FOR RE-ELECTION. IT WAS LAUNCHED AFTER MAJORITY DEMOCRATS REFUSED TO RUSH A REPUBLICAN SEX OFFENDER BILL TO THE FLOOR ON THE FIRST DAY OF SESSION.

REP. WALLACE: "We've reached a new low in the politic process in the State of Washington."

REPRESENTATIVE DEB WALLACE OF VANCOUVER AND FELLOW DEMOCRATS WERE VISIBLY ANGRY AT A STATEHOUSE NEWS CONFERENCE. WALLACE SAYS THE POSTCARDS ARE EVIDENCE THE NEW HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS HAVE A DIFFERENT STYLE. ONE SHE DOESN'T LIKE AND DOESN'T THINK VOTERS DO EITHER.

WALLACE: "The leadership style here is not working because what the state of Washington expects is for there to be a bipartisan effort to work together."

DESPITE THIS DUST-UP, INDIVIDUAL HOUSE MEMBERS ARE STILL WORKING ACROSS THE AISLE ON SEVERAL KEY ISSUES - INCLUDING SEX OFFENDER LEGISLATION. BUT SO FAR LEADER DEBOLT REFUSES TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE POSTCARD DESPITE A LETTER AND PERSONAL REQUEST FROM DEMOCRATS. I'M AUSTIN JENKINS IN OLYMPIA.

Copyright 2006, KPLU

01.16.18

Schedules

spacer