Renton man says he'll file complaint; aided Roach in past
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Renton man who sued one Republican candidate for Metropolitan King County Council, and who said yesterday he would file an ethics complaint against another, has a history of helping the third candidate in the 9th District race, state Sen. Pam Roach.
Chris Clifford, who went to court seeking removal of former state Rep. Phil Fortunato's name from Tuesday's primary election ballot, said he would file a complaint with the county ombudsman alleging County Councilman Steve Hammond had violated the county's ethics code.
Clifford said he had planned to file the complaint yesterday but determined he needed more time to put it together. He said he expects to file Tuesday or Wednesday, regardless of the election's outcome.
Clifford said his complaint would be based on Hammond's acknowledgement earlier in the week that a member of his council staff, while on unpaid leave, had engineered a legal challenge to Roach's candidacy.
Attorney Jeff Cox, hired by Hammond shortly after Hammond's June appointment to the County Council, investigated and argued a case claiming Roach did not live in the 9th Council District and therefore was not qualified to vote or run for office there. The challenge to Roach was denied Monday by the county's interim director of elections, Jim Buck.
Clifford, the former owner of Jerseys All American Sports Bar in Seattle and now a substitute teacher, previously sued Fortunato, claiming he should be disqualified as a candidate on grounds that he lied when he signed a statement that he couldn't afford the $1,039 filing fee. A judge ruled that Fortunato was eligible to run.
Clifford denied filing challenges against Hammond and Fortunato to improve Roach's chances at the polls. But Clifford came to Roach's aid after she was reprimanded by a Senate committee in February for retaliating against a former employee who had accused her of creating a hostile work environment.
After Roach's former employee, Tabitha Wells Anderson, complained to the Legislative Ethics Board that Roach had improperly released her private e-mails to a newspaper reporter, Clifford filed complaints that Anderson and several other Legislature employees had used e-mail accounts inappropriately for their personal use.
Clifford said he made the complaints at the request of the late County Councilman Kent Pullen to establish that e-mails are public records, not to benefit Roach politically. At the time, Roach was an aide to Pullen.
Roach yesterday declined to discuss her relationship with Clifford.
The complaint Clifford says he would file against Hammond is similar to one already filed by David Osgood, an attorney who has represented Roach in at least two cases.
Osgood this week complained to the state Public Disclosure Commission that Cox's challenge of Roach's residency was "an undeclared, in-kind contribution of professional services" Hammond should have reported to the PDC.
Hammond has asked the PDC to immediately dismiss Osgood's complaint, saying Cox took unpaid time off from his job as a legislative aide to do volunteer work: "I don't see what the problem is."
Cox said he took a leave from his County Council job Aug. 1 and will return to work Monday.
PDC spokesman Doug Ellis said Osgood's complaint is under investigation.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company