Campaign ads released this week by a political action committee backed by anti-Columbia River Crossing activist David Madore has several politicians — including one that the group supports — crying foul.
The TV ad and postcard mailer both feature an enraged Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Harris during last year’s “gavel down” outburst, and then asks people to vote for city council candidates Josephine Wentzel and Bill Turlay.
Turlay, however, said Thursday that he wishes he hadn’t been associated with the advertisements. Harris issued a press release calling for an end to what she called “cyber-bullying” through Madore’s continued use of the YouTube video of that meeting.
“I don’t condone this type of advertising,” Turlay said, adding that he called Harris when the TV ad began running to say that he didn’t approve. “This is time to forget that and let’s get on with it.”
Turlay said he had called Madore, who along with his wife, Donna, also personally contributed $3,200 to Turlay’s campaign, but had not reached him yet. Under law, PACs act independently of candidates.
Wentzel did not return a request for comment Thursday.
The flier and ad were put out by Save Our City, a political action committee formed this year by Madore and Vancouver resident Debbie Peterson. The PAC has $30,159, and has spent $12,284, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Madore gave $10,000; Peterson, $100; Melody Dean, $15; Richard Sohn, $10; and Robert Dean $5. Save our City also obtained a $20,000 loan.
Harris said she’s appalled that the two most prominently featured people in the attack ad — she and Mayor Tim Leavitt — are not up for election this year.
“I’ve never seen a campaign flyer attacking elected (officials) who aren’t running, so I called and spoke with the PDC and they were surprised,” she said in a statement. “David Madore and Debbie Peterson, who financed this piece, are not interested in making good policy for Vancouver, they’re more interested in getting what they want at any cost to the people they publicly attack. People like this are character assassinators only interested in furthering their own personal agenda.”
Leavitt, who has often sparred with Madore, said he was turned off by the ads. He said they “smack of hypocrisy.”
“When you ascribe to Christian principles of ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated’ and ‘Speak the truth,’ the contradiction and hypocrisy is on display for everybody to observe,” the mayor said.
Madore said by email that his political action committee believes in responsive, transparent government and supports candidates who share that view.
“As citizens in this community, we are utilizing the avenues available to address the concerns we have over our government in ways that cannot be ignored,” wrote Madore, who does not give verbal interviews. “All of our information is vetted, accurate and easily accessible by anyone in terms of checking accuracy.”
The flier, however, contains at least two errors:
• It asks voters to “vote for change on Nov. 6th.” The election is Nov. 8.
• It claims Vancouver has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
The latest revised unemployment figures show that four other counties had higher unemployment than Clark County, said Scott Bailey, regional economist for the Washington Employment Security Department.
“Anybody who thinks a local politician, regardless of their party or political/economic philosophy, can do anything about the unemployment rate is sadly mistaken,” Bailey said.
Jim Mains, campaign manager for Bart Hansen, Wentzel’s opponent, said the campaign has received several emails from people condemning the negative ads and saying that Hansen now had their vote.
“One person said that it made up their mind,” Mains said. “And then they said ‘Go Bart!’”
Harris called the choice to use her image in the ads unfortunate.
“As a citizen, what I’m looking for in people who want to serve on city council are those that have the desire to work together productively for the good of the community to move Vancouver forward.“
Also on Thursday, Madore wrote about respecting women on his public Facebook page. In defending the right of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, to hold private coffee meetings with screened constituents in lieu of open town hall meetings, he wrote:
"Women are gentler creatures than us men. Our culture has lost something precious when men treat a woman so disgracefully in public.
“Yes, you can express your disagreement with her, but you ought to do so with respect. I respect women in leadership. They have an intuition, a kind of intelligence and insight that us guys often lack. Certainly there are women that hold political views that I strongly disagree with, like (U.S. House minority leader) Nancy Pelosi. But when addressing those differences, if she is a woman, we ought to do so with a kind of respect and honor that can best be described as chivalry.”
Turlay, who is running against Anne McEnerny-Ogle for Position 6, said he sympathized with Harris and wished that Save Our City had chosen to not focus on the “gavel down” incident.
“I'd rather win by issues rather than some things that (McEnerny-Ogle) has done,” Turlay said. “I just don’t like seeing negative advertising like that, especially because of the hit financially and personally Jeanne Harris has taken.”
Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/reporterdamewood or www.twitter.com/col_cityhall.