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McEntire files complaint regarding election mailer
A man misquoted in a political mailer by county commissioner candidate Linda Barnfather isn’t bothered but her opponent is.
Jim McEntire, the Republican candidate for the county seat to be vacated by Steve Tharinger, filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on Tuesday, taking issue with several things included in the mailer, which was delivered to Sequim residences Oct. 21.
In the mailer, a quote attributed to retired Rear Admiral Robert McClinton was not said by him.
Neighbor and friend
McClinton, reached at home Monday, said while the words weren’t his, he wasn’t upset to see them attributed to him in the mailer and he remains supportive of Barnfather.
“I think very highly of her and I’ve got a good deal of respect for Linda Barnfather’s intelligence and integrity,” he said, adding he also thinks McEntire is well-qualified.
McClinton is in the unique position of being friends with both candidates as well as Barnfather’s neighbor.
McEntire, a Port of Port Angeles commissioner, said making up quotes violates the law or is “certainly unethical.”
The law states political advertising cannot, with actual malice, falsely claim or imply the support or endorsement of a person or organization when the candidate does not have such support or endorsement. Actual malice is when the person accused of making the false statement did so with the knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of the statement.
Barnfather said the misquote was the result of a miscommunication between her and her campaign staff.
“We both thought each other read it and cleared it with him,” she said of a campaign staff member. “I thought she did and she thought I did.”
Barnfather said they both apologized to McClinton the day the mailer went out.
McEntire said whether or not the statement was made with actual malice is to be determined by the PDC.
“I’m not standing here to say guilty or innocent,” he said. “I’m saying it appears to me that the actual law was broken. That’s my contention.”
McEntire also is taking issue with the mailers including McClinton’s title of former president of the North Olympic Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
“No permission was given by this organization, which both RADM McClinton and Mr. McEntire are members of, to use its name in any connection in any candidate’s political advertising,” McEntire said in the PDC complaint.
The MOAA has a national policy to not allow use of its name in any political advertising, he said.
Tax vs. public funds
Additionally, McEntire said a statement included in the mailer, “tax dollars (spent on) numerous dinners of more than $100 each on political junkets in Washington, D.C., and Tacoma,” also violates the law because it wrongly gives the connotation that the “entire Clallam County public” paid for business he conducted as Port commissioner.
McEntire said there is no tax revenue involved in any of his personal reimbursements for business conducted on behalf of the Port.
“They are public funds but taxpayer funds have a particular connotation,” he said.
In the complaint, McEntire said, “This knowingly false statement slanders him, impugns his reputation and puts into question his abilities to conduct Port business.”
Show me the money
Barnfather said there is nothing in the mailer that rises to the level of malice and there is no direct mention of McEntire in it either.
“He demonstrates he isn’t interpreting the law correctly,” she said.
Barnfather said she is more concerned “that the voters know who will be more fiscally conservative with public money and get us through these tough economic times.”
McEntire said he’d like to compare public money reimbursements with Barnfather, who is a legislative assistant to Rep. Kevin Van De Wege.
“If we’re going to have a discussion about who spent what money where, let’s compare my business expenses with hers,” he said. “This has been a one-sided conversation so far.”
Reach Amanda Winters at email@example.com.