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A David Letterman Moment in King County, Washington

Okay, wow. When I called Dow Constantine a smarmy politician I was just referring to his apparent level of comfort with lying about Council colleague Kathy Lambert. It appears there’s so much more. Allegations have surfaced that Constantine has been accused of sexually harassing a County employee, as Mark Griswold writes about at Sound Politics.

Rumors of Dow Constantine’s inappropriate behavior have been swirling around the political cocktail circuit since his days in Olympia but until now they haven’t gotten much traction. Fair enough. As Baz Lurhmann says, “politicians will always philander.”

But now it seems that Constantine’s work place advances may be catching up with him.

I, along with Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times, was recently tipped off about a story involving a county employee and some of this inappropriate behavior. When Mr. Ervin filed a public records request all he was given was a restraining order between Ms. Jane Doe and King County, mentioning she feared for her job security should the information contained within documents related to the public records request be released.

For those who may not know, King County has stonewalled on records requests in the past and now Keith Ervin files a public records request gets a copy of a restraining order for his trouble. That in itself seems like a story to me but not to Ervin, who suffers from what should rightfully be a career-killing lack of curiosity. Ervin is the same reporter who apparently didn’t find it particularly disturbing that Constantine’s campaign treasurer is also the treasurer for Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, a “non-partisan” group that funded robo-calls against his opponent in the Executive’s race, Susan Hutchison.

I wonder how Jane Doe knew about Ervin’s request in time to file this restraining order. Would it be standard practice to notify all interested parties when a records request is received? If not, how did Jane Doe know about the request? Does she really fear the loss of her job if this information is made public? If so, what does that say about the employment environment at King County? Is she cooperating in protecting Constantine? If so, why? Was she pressured into doing so?

So many questions but one thing seems clear: if there were no truth to the allegation about a sexual harassment complaint, Ervin’s request would not have resulted in a restraining order being filed. And how convenient that the order will be in effect until after the ballot deadline.

Update: Speaking on the Kirby Wilbur Show, Mark Griswold states that the attorney who filed the restraining order, Tyler Firkins, has a track record of filing restraining orders on “behalf” of plaintiffs without their knowledge. So a new question arises: Who hired Firkins? Was it Jane Doe? A union interested in Constantine becoming King County Executive? Firkins’ old law school chum, Dow Constantine?

Cross posted at It’s Only Words.

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