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Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dirty tricks for GOP charged: Couple recruited 3rd-party candidates

Seattle Times political reporter

Green Party candidates were recruited into the state's two hottest political campaigns last month after benefactors with Republican ties organized and financed the left-leaning group's nominating conventions. They also paid for the candidates' filing fees, according to the recruits, who say they will now return the money.

Democrats say they recognize names of people who attended the Greens' nominating conventions as Republican backers, including donors to one of the GOP candidates.

Democrats say it's a dirty trick designed to take votes from their candidates in races that could decide the balance of power in the Legislature and on the Metropolitan King County Council. Some Greens are also unhappy, saying their nascent party was hijacked by forces they don't quite understand.

The Olympia couple who did the work deny that and say that each of them, independently, was trying to help a struggling third party.

In Snohomish County's 21st Legislative District, which will likely decide whether the state House stays in a 49-49 tie or is taken over by Democrats, the Green Party convention was organized and financed by Stan Shore, a leading GOP campaign consultant.

He encouraged Young S. Han, 18, to join the House race and had $250 transferred to Han's campaign bank account to help pay the filing fee, Han said last night.

Shore said he is not working for Rep. Joe Marine, a Republican who is running in a special election in November to keep the seat he was appointed to last year.

In the Metropolitan King County Council race for South King County's 13th District, the Green Party candidate was recruited by Leslie Donovan, Shore's wife, a former small-town newspaper publisher and tribal lobbyist.

Shore is working for state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who is running for that seat in the GOP primary against County Councilman Les Thomas. The council now has seven Republicans and six Democrats.

Shore said his work for the Greens was not to help Republicans. Rather, it grew out of frustration, he said, that it was so hard for third parties to get on the ballot. "I have a lot of personal sympathy with the Greens, and I think it's good politically to have a lot of diverse names on the ballot and a lot of different opinions out there," Shore said. "I think politics makes strange bedfellows. Believe me, at this house that is very true."

He calls his wife a "rabid environmentalist."

Donovan said it was her environmental beliefs that motivated her, saying Democrats and Republicans haven't done enough to protect the environment.

She said she often disagrees with her husband's politics and didn't know what he was doing in Snohomish County.

"One of the key values of the Green Party is feminism, and this party above all should know that women should be able to stand out alone from their husbands," she said.

The 21st District race will be one of the most expensive and most-watched legislative contests in years. The House has been deadlocked for three years. And if Marine loses in November, Democrats would likely control the House.

Green Party candidates became a potent threat to Democrats — and a potential boost to Republicans — last year when consumer activist Ralph Nader campaigned for president. The Democrats worry that support for Greens from environmentalists, free-trade opponents and others would come from the Democrats' traditional base.

In neither case did Donovan or Shore tell their recruits of their political connections.

"Stan seemed like a really decent guy," Han said. "He is actually a very smooth operator. I thought he was a genuine guy who maybe wasn't a Green, but he represented himself as someone who fights the establishment."

Han, who graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School last year, was a founding member of the state Green Party and was already thinking of running when someone mentioned that Shore was interested in helping.

The Greens in Snohomish County were organizing a convention when Shore published a legal notice in the Everett Herald announcing the nominating convention. Han said members were looking for a park to hold the convention. Instead, Shore rented a room at a Lynnwood hotel.

It wasn't as easy to find a willing Green candidate for the County Council position in South King County. State Sen. Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, is running for the Democratic nomination.

On July 4, Donovan sent an e-mail to members of the South King County Green Party. She said she was asked by "members of the environmental community, including Muckleshoot Indian tribal members," whom she represents as a lobbyist, to help find a Green candidate.

The e-mail said Donovan had scheduled a nominating convention at the 13 Coins Restaurant in SeaTac and had paid for the legal ads announcing it.

"It was kind of unusual because it was held at a fairly high-end restaurant. There was cigarette smoking, and hors d'oeuvres," said Michael Kovacs, the Green Party's secretary, who said Donovan tried to persuade him to run. By day's end, though, no one had agreed to run.

Sometime in the next couple of days, Michael Jepson said a friend told him Donovan was looking for a candidate. A 21-year-old computer-systems operator from Des Moines, Jepson has never been involved in the Green Party or politics.

"I figured you had to have a master's degree to run for office, and I thought, `This will be really cool.' And I thought what better party to run for than the Green Party?" Jepson said.

He said he doesn't remember all the details because he had strep throat, but that one day that week he was at the 13 Coins with Donovan and two other people and he agreed to run.

He said Donovan said she would help come up with money to pay his $979.07 filing fee. The day he filed, he said, a $1,000 check was deposited in his account from a company that he did not recognize.

Since he filed, Jepson said, Democrats have called his home and tried to talk him into quitting the race.

He said one man showed up and told his family he wanted to give Jepson another chance to drop out "before my face was plastered all over the media as the false candidate."

"That is absolutely disgusting," he said. "That is exactly what I'm running against."

Democrats who have heard about the recruitment of Green Party candidates are outraged.

"I think it's dirty tricks and the kid got sucked into it," state Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said of Han. "The question is what did Joe Marine know and when did he know it?"

Marine, running to hold his legislative seat, said last night that he does not know Shore and knew nothing about his work in the 21st District.

Among names on the convention sign-up sheet in Lynnwood are donors to Marine's campaign, including Cecil and Eva Chapman of Mukilteo, who donated $600, and Geoff Nelson, who contributed $50. They could not be reached last night.

Stan Lake, a Snohomish County Republican Party volunteer, also attended. "A friend of mine called and told me that a gentleman was having a hard time getting signatures for getting on the ballot," Lake said. "I am pretty much open to signing just about any petition to bring an issue up for a vote."

There are also familiar GOP names on the South King County convention list. Shore and Donovan said they did not invite people to the conventions and could not explain why people with Republican ties attended.

Both Green candidates said they would return money from anyone connected to other parties or candidates. "I am young and idealistic," Han said. "But one of the reasons I'm running is corruption in politics. But I never thought that it could get like this."

Donovan said she only wanted to help out the Greens, who she said were obviously too disorganized to nominate a candidate on their own.

"I'm just an activist person. I just do what needs to be done," she said. "I didn't know it would upset the whole world."

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