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Friday, September 21, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hague OK'd bio that said she had degree

Seattle Times staff reporter

King County Councilwoman Jane Hague was adamant last week.

She repeatedly denied that she had inflated her résumé by falsely claiming to be a university graduate. When asked by a Seattle Times reporter about published reports in past years that stated she had a degree, Hague shot back, "Are you trying to call me a liar?"

Now a document from the files of the Municipal League of King County shows she signed and then submitted a biographical sketch in 1993 that stated she had earned a bachelor of science degree in business and economics from Western Michigan University.

Hague attended the university 1964-68, but the school says she never graduated.

The Municipal League, which publishes annual candidate evaluations, sent a letter to Hague in 1993 asking her to proofread the biography she had submitted: "Please review this information for accuracy and sign your name at the bottom of this page to indicate that you have approved the information ... "

The document was amended in several places to indicate that Hague had lived in the area for 24 years, was an active volunteer, and was on unpaid leave from her job as King County's elections manager while running for the County Council.

But no correction was made to the sentence that stated she had earned a bachelor's degree.

Hague was asked multiple times this week, by phone, e-mail and in person, to explain the discrepancy. She declined to do so.

Several publications, including The Seattle Times, Marquis Who's Who, the Municipal League and the National Association of Counties, published profiles between 1991 and 2000 that stated Hague had earned a bachelor's degree.

Hague said last week those published reports may have resulted from errors her staff made on questionnaires that she didn't proofread carefully enough.

"I have made every effort to represent my educational background exactly as it is, that I have attended a four-year institution of higher learning, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Somehow if there have been erroneous publications, then I have to accept the full responsibility," Hague said last week.

More recent profiles about the Republican have either made no mention of her education or have said she attended Western Michigan without mentioning a degree.

Richard Pope, the Democratic challenger for Hague's Bellevue seat, raised questions about that when he noticed her 2007 Municipal League questionnaire no longer stated that she was a college graduate.

Hague's campaign spokesman, Brett Bader, said Hague has never claimed a college degree in her campaign materials or in her council biography: "I think this is a nonstory that has no relevance to the challenges facing the county or the specifics of this election."

Hague's campaign ran into trouble last month when news broke that she had been arrested June 2 on suspicion of drunken driving. Hague apologized earlier this month for her sarcastic and profane comments to a sheriff's deputy and two state troopers involved in her arrest under her married name, Jane Hague Springman.

She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving under the influence.

It is not clear how the arrest and the misleading reports of Hague's educational background might affect the Nov. 6 election.

"Jane's dug herself a hole and she seems to be making it deeper," said State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz.

But former Republican state Rep. Toby Nixon said, "I completely expect Jane to get re-elected. Maybe it won't be as huge a margin as it otherwise would have been."

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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