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GOP Claims It Has Evidence Cheryl Pflug Improperly Appointed to Growth Management Hearings Board

Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), received documents related to Pflug's appointment to the board via a public records request, that he says show that the hiring committee questioned her qualifications.

Former state Sen. Cheryl Pflug's (R-Maple Valley) appointment to the Growth Management Hearings Board on May 21, the last day to withdraw her candidacy for reelection to the 5th District Senate seat and subsequent endorsement of Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet, sparked a firestorm of criticism by the state GOP.

The move also lately has convinced Democratic Rep. candidate David Spring (D-North Bend) to (Snoqualmie) for the seat, and laying a lengthy missive that he says supports his claim that Pflug was bribed and that Mullet was involved.

Adding to the melee, Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), said he plans to introduce legislation to this year to prevent a governor from appointing a sitting legislator to a board position so close to the filing date, and requested public records from the Growth Management Hearings Board related to Pflug's appointment. Erickson circulated the documents he received this week via email, they are attached here as PDFs. (Note, the emails discuss specifically Pflug's application, but do not include any discussions of other candidates' qualifications).

At the center of Erickson's claims of foul play are questions of whether Pflug, who was finishing her law studies at the time she applied for the job, was even qualified to fill the position, not having taken the bar exam yet and not having served as a local elected official (such as on a city council or school board). The documents also indicate that Pflug applied for the job after the deadline.

King5 reporter Robert Mak reported that a spokeswoman for Gov. Chris Gregoire noted that for each region of the Growth Management Hearings Board that one member hold a JD and one member have been a local elected official. In the case of the central region, which Pflug was appointed to, the other member, Margaret Pageler, is both a lawyer and former Seattle City Council member, and according to the documents Erickson received, Pflug is arranging to take unpaid leave this winter to take the bar exam. Gregoire was required to select a Republican to fill the position.

For her part, Pflug told Patch recently that she had filed for reelection when she had heard no word on the possible appointment, and had told the committee that she needed to know by May 21st as that was the last day to withdraw. When she got the call on Monday, May 21 at noon, Pflug said, she felt okay about withdrawing, since there was another Republican candidate who had filed, but the GOP cried foul at the time, suggesting that had he known Pflug was not going to run, 5th District Rep. Jay Rodne, who is unopposed in his bid for reelection for Pos. 1, likely would have run for the seat.

Pflug also notes, in one of the documents circulated this week, and sent to Patch by David Spring, that she was one of three sitting legislators vying for the seat, though the other applicants' names are redacted in the documents.

jared October 26, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Oh, oh, I want to start a conspiracy too...here goes. Spring, always a bridesmaid, sold his soul to the republicans so he could get his name back in circulation and maybe one day land that beau he's been dying to meet. In return, the republicans gave Spring a signed copy of Terry's Famous Authors Cookbook, and a plate of Hemingway's famous corned beef hash. Spring, belly satisfied, starts slinging all mumbo-jumbo they give him. Meanwhile, in reality...please carefully read Cheryl's comment, "making an independent decision issue by issue". The republican'ts weren't too happy where Ms Pflug stood on a particular issue, a controversial issue, a CURRENT controversial issue, the same issue B-Rad had a tough time talking to the Times about (get it?). Due to Cheryl's opinion, the GOP left her high and dry; so she decided to do the same. Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't have said this "Hasta la vista, baby!" better himself. I truly admire the way Cheryl stood up for what she believes in! That's the reality, folks. T-Money, I really can't wait for your big ethics review. If it's as big as you conjure it up to be, it should make some serious national news and maybe even the silver screen. Any way I can get a signed copy of that cook book? Let's communicate.
Jeanne Gustafson October 26, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Terry, but my job is to help readers hopefully sort through the chatter to facts, not engage in an argument with you about your opinions, which you are welcome to express. *Those interested, it's Washington State Wire. My comment above was to clarify for the commenter David the possible issues I see with how Sen. Erickson has laid out his information. In my opinion, as a journalist, it's not possible to determine if Cheryl Pflug got preferential treatment without seeing how the staff discussions went on ALL the applicants. I also find it hard to understand how the term "bribe" can be used here legitimately. How could she have given her seat to the democrats, because the seat is still up for grabs and being vied for by candidates from both major parties. Would one endorsement guarantee any one candidate to win a senate race? I certainly hope not, or everyone can just burn their ballots now. For any who want to consider a little editorialized opinion (duly noting I do not endorse either candidate, nor do I live in the 5th District): If I was Brad Toft, I personally would be quite offended that my party had so little confidence in me that it would presume an endorsement would hold such sway. The way I see it, Toft is in a lot better position, including full support of the party, with Pflug NOT in the race. As for the comment to Sen. Tom, that can be interpreted just as easily as Pflug quipping her opinion about Toft's chances as evidence of some crime.
David Kirkpatrick October 26, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Right, it will be interesting to see what those involved have to say. Either way it looks like Erickson is right. Something needs to happen to prevent a similar situation from reoccurring. It looks like the whole thing was just carried out rather poorly and unfortunately its residents of the 5th district that will have to pay for mistakes made in Olympia.
jared October 26, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Jeanne, is there any way to "Like" your comment? Actually, I Love it. Thank you for bringing logic and reason to this pompous allegation. T-Money, why am I still dignifying your comments with a response? You're not a very good communicator.
Jeanne Gustafson October 26, 2012 at 05:09 PM
While I appreciate your comment, Jared, I do want to also restate that I am not for or against either of these candidates, and I greatly appreciate them both taking advantage of the community platform here to share information. My general goal in commenting is always to bring out more information for people with questions or lend some analysis where appropriate. You'll often see me playing devil's advocate as a way to encourage productive discussion, but unless so noted, I hope to do so neutrally, though at Patch editors are not required to pretend they don't have personal opinions or biases. It's in recognizing that we all have such biases that we can set them aside, we hope, to report stories accurately for our communities.

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