Republicans say they’ve uncovered new evidence that Governor Christine Gregoire’s office played politics when appointing a sitting state senator to a government position.
E-mail documents show Republican State Senator Cheryl Pflug was late to submit her application for a job with the Growth Management Hearings Board, and that the governor’s staff was concerned about whether she met the qualifications for the job.
The governor appointed Pflug, just in time for Pflug to take her name off the ballot for re-election to her senate seat.
Internal e-mails and notes show the governor’s staff was aware of the May 21st deadline for Pflug to withdraw from the election. “What she (the governor) has done is unprecedented…she has exploited the system to the max,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale). Republicans complain that the timing left their party with no time to consider other candidates for the position.
Ericksen says he plans to introduce legislation this year that would prohibit a governor from appointing a sitting legislator to a position so close to the filing date.
Gregoire was required to appoint a Republican to this particular position, and the governor’s office today denied any political considerations. “There’s absolutely no truth to what Sen. Ericksen is claiming,” said Karina Shargrin, spokesperson for the governor.
The e-mails Ericksen circulated, show the governor’s staff debated Pflug’s qualifications. By state law, at least one member from each region must be an attorney and at least one member from each region must have been a local elected official. Pflug was elected to the state senate, which is not technically a local elected position. She also has not yet passed the bar, though she was just finishing law school classes at the time she applied. “She does not hold a J.D….She has not held a local elected position,” notes governor staffer Carol Albert. “She is aware that her application was submitted late…Based on this data - Kim and I recommend that Pflug not go through the interview process.”
While staff felt Pflug did not meet either of those qualifications, Shagrin says it wasn’t a requirement that Pflug be either a lawyer or a local elected official. The other person representing the central region is Margaret Pageler, who fills both qualifications by being a lawyer and a former member of the Seattle City Council.