Port candidate seeks protection order against ex-campaign worker

Robert Sabo says move is retaliation over disclosures about Greene's oil ties

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Port of Vancouver District 1 candidate Kris Greene has filed a petition for an order of protection from harassment against his former campaign strategist, Robert Sabo.

The petition was filed in Clark County District Court on Oct. 6., but Sabo said he wasn’t served with the paperwork until late Friday afternoon.

He characterized the move as retaliation for his publicly speaking out against the Greene campaign’s tactics.

Sabo recently reached out to The Columbian to allege that fossil fuel industry insiders are effectively dictating who should work with Greene’s campaign and reshaping the campaign’s message, and directing how the campaign would spend a $225,000 contribution by Vancouver Energy.

Vancouver Energy wants to build a $210 million oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. If built it would handle an average of 360,000 barrels of oil per day, delivered by train from the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota and stored and shipped out of the Port of Vancouver by water, bound for oil refineries along the West Coast.

According to court documents, Greene claimed in an Oct. 6 filing in District Court that he is a victim of unlawful harassment from Sabo, whom he described as a friend and volunteer working on his campaign.

Greene did not respond to requests for comment from The Columbian.

Greene’s claim

In the petition, Greene alleges that during a phone call on or around “Sept 2017” at “I(nterstate) 205 and Mill Plain” in Vancouver, Sabo shouted at him, upset because Greene chose to do business with his brother-in-law.

“Robert shouted to me multiple times that I could not understand how much energy it takes him to hold back his anger and that his anger was uncontrollable and I could not imagine how much harm he could do to me, my family, my business and my campaign and anyone associated with it,” Greene said in the petition.

Greene also alleged that Sabo took down Greene’s internet and Facebook page for the day and “held it hostage” for a number of hours.

Greene’s petition also alleged that the two men got on the phone, and Sabo began shouting again and later sent threatening messages to two other people.

Where the petition form asks for a description of the incidents and where, when and how each incident occurred, Greene wrote that he called the police after Sabo harassed him through text messages on Oct. 2 and 3. Greene said he has a police report.

“Since I’m not sure how mad he can get, I feel very threatened, physically, emotionally and financially, my family, my home, my business and my campaign,” he wrote.

He also wrote the incidents left him “scared, worried, very stressed as I’m not sure how bad he can hurt me.”

Greene also cites Sabo’s 1997 conviction for a first-degree felony for robbing Sabo’s father’s Texaco station north of Orchards the year prior, when he was 25 years old. In 2004, Sabo was pardoned by Gov. Gary Locke.

Sabo’s response

In a telephone interview Friday, Sabo said he never violently threatened Greene. He described the interactions as a “spirited conversation” with his best friend because he was afraid Greene’s campaign was being substantially overcharged by outside vendors.

He said there is no reason for Greene to fear for his safety.

“I’ve fought for my right to be a citizen. Why would I jeopardize that? Why would I risk my wife and my 6-month-old child, ultra-successful multiple businesses, all of my rights? Why would I risk any of that?” Sabo said.

He said he had built Greene’s online presence from the ground up from the beginning of the campaign. He said he took down Greene’s campaign website and Facebook page because they were his intellectual property.

“Those were my in-kind donations to the campaign,” he said.

Sabo pointed to Facebook posts he made early Friday morning in which he lamented the loss of a friendship speaking to The Columbian.

“I will be praying for him moving forward,” Sabo wrote.

Greene’s request

Greene asked the court to require Sabo to pay Greene’s court costs and prevent Sabo from contacting him or going to his home or workplace. He also asked the court to not allow Sabo to “text, mail, email, comment or harm me or my campaign, my family on any social media or news outlet nor disparage me or my family in any way to anyone.”

Greene asked the order be put in place for longer than one year.

“It’s 100 percent retaliation,” Sabo said. “If it wasn’t, there’d be no gag order.”

In his Oct. 6 filing, Greene also asked for an emergency temporary protection order until the court hearing, which is scheduled for 9 a.m., Oct. 18. The judge approved a temporary order, but the order only restrains Sabo from making any attempts to contact Greene.

The document signed on Oct. 6 said the petitioner, Greene, had made private arrangements for service of the order. Sabo said he was served on Friday, a week after the document was signed.

Negotiations

Between the time the order was signed and the date Sabo was served, the parties exchanged emails that appeared to be seeking an amicable way out of their conflict.

Sabo provided The Columbian with what he says were emails sent from Wednesday through Friday, between him, Greene and his campaign staff. The Columbian couldn’t verify the emails’ authenticity with the Greene campaign.

The emails Sabo provided reveal an exchange referencing a document titled “No Contact and Content Distribution Agreement,” which was allegedly sent to Sabo by the campaign. In the email exchange, Greene’s campaign staffer Brook Pell described the document as a “clean break” for both men. Sabo said the document was too constricting and wouldn’t sign it. He then prepared his own, much shorter version called “Article of Compromise.”

A sentence above where Sabo is supposed to sign the document reads, “I, Robert Sabo, agree on the date that I sign to be silent towards Kris L. Greene and his campaign moving forward.”

The sentence above where Greene is supposed to sign reads, “I, Kris L. Greene, agree that I will seek no legal action towards Robert Sabo provided he complies with the above statement.”

The bottom line reads, “This agreement will remain in effect till[sic] November 8th, 2017.”

Sabo said he sent that “Article of Compromise” to Greene and his campaign, but he said the offer wasn’t accepted. After that exchange, and on the day a story about his claims was published in The Columbian, he was served with the court papers.