|(1) A person is guilty of bribery if:
(a) With the intent to secure a particular result in a particular matter involving the exercise of the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action in his or her official capacity, he or she offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon such public servant; or
(b) Being a public servant, he or she requests, accepts, or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit pursuant to an agreement or understanding that his or her vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action as a public servant will be used to secure or attempt to secure a particular result in a particular matter.
RCW 9A.68.040… Trading in public office.
|(1) A person is guilty of trading in public office if:
(a) He or she offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon a public servant pursuant to an agreement or understanding that such actor will or may be appointed to a public office; or
(b) Being a public servant, he or she requests, accepts, or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit from another person pursuant to an agreement or understanding that such person will or may be appointed to a public office.
RCW 9A.68.050… Trading in special influence.
(1) A person is guilty of trading in special influence if:
(a) He or she offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon another person pursuant to an agreement or understanding that such other person will offer or confer a benefit upon a public servant or procure another to do so with intent thereby to secure or attempt to secure a particular result in a particular matter; or
(b) He or she requests, accepts, or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit pursuant to an agreement or understanding that he or she will offer or confer a benefit upon a public servant or procure another to do so with intent thereby to secure or attempt to secure a particular result in a particular matter.
The Standard of Proof to sustain a Felony Charge is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
This is a much higher standard of proof that simply a preponderance of evidence as required to prevail in a civil dispute. It means that any reasonable person would conclude that it is likely that the crime has been committed.
There is a good reason bribery is illegal. It is a threat to democracy and a threat to our justice system. Legislators and judges are charged with making important decisions that affect everyone. If their decisions can be bought by a particular person with a particular interest to achieve a particular outcome that benefits a particular group over the public interest, then all the rest of us are deprived of justice. Let’s therefore examine a statement of twenty facts which taken together is enough to convince any reasonable person that Gov. Chris Gregoire knowingly and deliberately bribed Sen. Cheryl Pflug in exchange for her assistance in transferring her Senate Seat from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.
First, the Democratic Party holds a razor thin majority in the State Senate.
In the 2012 legislative session, the Democratic Party held a 27 to 22 seat majority in the Senate. However, three Democratic Senators voted with the Republican Party for a 25 to 24 Republican Majority. This dispute required a month long Special Session and numerous concessions regarding the fate of billions of dollars in spending to resolve.
Second, Republican State Senator, Cheryl Pflug enrolled at Seattle University Law School in August 2009 and graduated with a law degree on May 11, 2012.
Third, Cheryl Pflug filed to run for the Senate on the last day of filing, May 18, 2012.
Fourth, Cheryl filed despite having raised no money to run her Senate campaign.
Below is the Public Disclosure Commission page for the 5th LD Senate race, August 2012:
In short, in 2012 Sen. Pflug raised zero dollars and spent zero dollars on her Senate race. By comparison, at the 2008 filing deadline, Cheryl had raised $34,000 and spent $15,000 on her Senate race and had $19,000 in the bank. In 2004, Cheryl had raised $31,000 and spent $17,000 and had $14,000 left in the bank for her 2004 Senate race.
The odds of an incumbent Senator filing for office while having not one penny in their campaign account when they have challengers from both parties are extremely low. I can find almost no cases of this occurring in the past 12 years where PDC records are available. It was clear from the above chart that Cheryl never intended to run in 2012. She filed on May 18, 2012 under false pretenses in order to deprive the Republican Party of running one of their better known candidates for the Senate (Rep. Jay Rodne or former Sen. Dino Rossi).
Fifth, Sen. Pflug withdrew from the Senate race on Monday May 21, 2012 – which was the last day to withdraw from the Senate race without her name appearing on the Primary ballot. The odds of a sitting senator withdrawing from a Senate race the day after the filing deadline are also extremely low. I can find no cases ever of this having occurred.
Sixth, also on Monday May 21, 2012, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the appointment of Sen. Cheryl Pflug as the Central Puget Sound Representative to the Washington Growth Management Hearing Board.
This date is extremely significant as it goes to the intent of the appointment. There is only one day every two years in which a candidate may withdraw from running for office without other candidates having the right to file to run for that same office. The odds of this appointment being randomly made on this exact date were only one in 724. Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Pflug chose the day after the filing deadline as any other date would have allowed the Republican Party to field a better known candidate for the Senate seat. There is no other plausible reason for choosing this exact date. This appointment occurring on this exact date confirms that the intention of the appointment was to deprive the Republican Party of the right to field its best known candidates for this position.
Seventh, this position on the Growth Management Hearing Board pays $92,500 per year for the next six years and does not requiring running for office or seeking the approval of the voters. By comparison, the salary of a State Senator is only $42,000 per year and is a four year position and does requiring running for office and seeking the approval of the voters.
Eighth, the Central Puget Sound Hearing Board position had remained vacant for more than one year. Cheryl replaces Republican David Earling who resigned more than one year earlier in order to run for Mayor of Edmonds – a race he filed for in May 2011 and won in November 2011. The new term did not start until July 1st 2012.
Ninth, Gov. Gregoire failed to appoint a replacement for this important position for an entire year. This in itself is a violation of State law. The Growth Management Act, RCW 36.70A.250, specifically states:
(2) Each member of the board shall be appointed for a term of six years. A vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the governor for the unexpired portion of the term in which the vacancy occurs.
The word “SHALL” means that the governor MUST appoint a replacement when a vacancy occurs. Had the word been “may”, then the governor could have left the position vacant. So it is important to understand why Gov. Gregoire left this position vacant for an entire year. Had the governor filled the vacancy, then she would not have been able to appoint Pflug to this position on May 21, 2012. She would have been forced to wait until July 1, 2012 when the position would become vacant again. Sen. Pflug would not have been able to endorse Mark Mullet in May 2012 (because she would have been running against him) and Mark Mullet would not have been able to indicate on his Voters Guide statement that he was endorsed by Senator Cheryl Pflug. The entire scheme was dependent on the Hearing Board remaining vacant for the year so that Sen. Pflug could be appointed to it on May 21, 2012 – even if this meant violating State law.
Tenth, the Central Puget Sound Hearing Board vacancy – which is actually a judge’s position in that the duty is to write legal opinions - requires a Republican with a law degree. There is exactly one Central Puget Sound position open to a Republican. It must by law be filled by a Republican with a law degree from the Central Puget Sound. The odds of any single person in the King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap Region getting this position are about one in two million. There are only 7 total positions in the entire state. Sen. Pflug had just completed her law degree at Seattle University on May 12, 2012 only 9 days before accepting this important judge’s position on the Growth Management Board. She has never appeared as an attorney in court nor has she ever written any legal opinions as a judge. It is difficult to imagine a less qualified applicant for this important position.
Map of the Central Puget Sound Hearing Board –
the largest most active and most important hearing board in the State:
Below is Cheryl Pflug’s own description of the position as being something like getting a summer job as a camp counselor:
“It’s a good opportunity to learn a really specialized area of law and so that’s something I like to do,” she said. “Most of the people on the hearing board are lawyers. A couple of people with local government backgrounds as well … like local council members. But it’s a quasi-judicial position.”
It is clear from her statement that Sen. Pflug regards this position as a learning opportunity for her. However, having a rookie lawyer serving as a judge on one of the most important land use courts in the State, and one of the most important courts of any kind in our state outside of the Supreme Court, deprives those who bring their cases to this court of having a fair hearing before an experienced judge. It also deprives all of us who are affected by land use decisions of having our own land use rights being fully protected. Decisions by the Growth Management Board can be appealed to Superior Court. However, there is a presumption in favor of the decision made by the Growth Management Board. It is a fact that Growth Management Board decisions are rarely over-turned.
Eleventh, Cheryl Pflug’s background and training is as a Nurse.
Cheryl has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the highly regarded University of Washington School of Nursing. Nurses have a very high likelihood of getting a good paying job in the current market while new attorneys have a very low probability of getting a good paying job due to the glut of attorneys in Washington State right now. Yet three years ago, Sen. Pflug began attending law school. It is extremely unusual for a nurse to suddenly enter law school. This is especially odd when law school costs over $100,000 and the nurse is working as a state senator – a job that pays only $42,000 per year.
Gambling $100,000 on a law degree when there is a huge over-abundance of attorneys in our state and a shortage of nurses does not appear to be a reasonable decision – especially when one considers that Sen. Pflug also has a financial obligation to support four nearly grown children – one just graduated from college, a second one starting law school, a third son also in college and a daughter also about to enter college in the next two years. Imagine needing to pay for college tuition for three college age children at the same time and you can see what Sen. Pflug was up against. It is no wonder Cheryl has publicly complained on many occasions that she cannot send her children to college on the salary of a state senator – especially with tuition having more than doubled to more than $10,000 per year during the six years Cheryl Pflug was a senator.
Adding another $100,000 cost, with a low probability of success, to this burden would not be likely – unless Cheryl was already aware of the bribe – and also aware that the bribe required that she obtain a law degree before May 21st 2012. She must have also been aware that the governor was willing to hold the seat on the Growth Management Board open for an entire year while Sen. Pflug got her law degree when she entered law school in 2009. Once the million dollar bribe is taken into account, the decision to spend $100,000 on a law degree makes perfect sense as it would pay for itself over time AND pay for higher education for all of her children.
Below are some of Sen. Pflug’s public statements to the press on the financial problems of being a single mom and a State Senator:
“I have been working pretty hard and feel like I’ve been pulled in a lot of different directions for years now,” she said. “It’s sort of nice to have a normal schedule. Not so much time away from home and evenings and weekends and that kind of thing.”
Additionally, Pflug mentioned finances as one reason she accepted the position, which pays $92,500 a year. “The legislature it’s a fairly expensive job for a pretty low salary, and so not that many people find that they’re able to have a second career,” she said. “It does kind of depend on districts, but that was difficult for me too. I’m a single mom with kids in college, so that part is just hard.”
Pflug stated that figuring out what was best long-term from a financial perspective contributed to her decision to earn a law degree. “I was also thinking realistically I wasn’t going to have sort of a normal retirement,” she said. “The legislature, it’s not like your salary grows over years of service. That wasn’t going to provide a retirement. So what would I be interested in doing that works with my background and I could work part time in my 70s and what could I do during the interim?
“Increasingly for all of us, we have longer lifespans,” Pflug said. Retirement at 60, and living for another 40 years, appears financially daunting. “It’s wise to think about what you might enjoy doing that you could do at least part time, until you’re 75 or so.”
Speaking of retirement, according to one article, every year Cheryl spent in the legislature counts as three years in the State Retirement System. Thus, Sen. Pflug’s 13 years in the legislature may turn into 39 years. Adding 6 more years on the Growth Management Board brings her up to 45 years. Cheryl Pflug’s pension will be based on her two highest years of pay – which means that her retirement pay will be double what it would have been had she remained in the legislature. Sen. Pflug can retire at age 60 as she indicated above and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional retirement benefits which bring the total amount of the bribe up to nearly one million dollars.
Twelfth, Cheryl Pflug chose to attend a law school which was based on a semester system and therefore offered graduations in May rather than a law school based on a Quarter system, that would not have permitted her to graduate until June.
The only reason Sen. Pflug was able to accept the Growth Management position on May 21st 2012 was that she had obtained a degree to “qualify” for the position 9 days earlier on May 11th. The only way she was able to get a degree in May was by attending a law school which is on a semester system. If she had attended a law school which is on a Quarter System, such as the University of Washington Law School, she would not have received her degree until June. This would have been too late to have her name removed from the Primary ballot. Cheryl apparently knew the exact date she would need to get her law degree before she even applied to law school. Cheryl knew she had to graduate by May 21st for the bribe to pay off and that is the reason she picked Seattle University Law School.
Thirteenth, on or before Monday, May 28th, (the deadline for submission of Voters Guide Statements) Democrat Mark Mullet submitted a Voter’s Guide Statement boasting that Republican Cheryl Pflug endorsed his campaign.
“Mark is endorsed by retiring 5th district Republican Senator Cheryl Pflug”
It is extremely rare for a sitting Senator to file to run for office with not a penny in their campaign account. The odds are non-existent. It is even rarer for a sitting senator to drop out of a race on the day after filing. I could find no examples of this ever having occurred. It is rarer still for a sitting senator of one party to endorse the senate candidate of the opposing party. I could also not find any examples of this ever occurring.
When one combines the odds of a sitting senator endorsing the senate candidate from the opposing party with the odds of a sitting senator dropping out the day after filing and the odds of a senator running for office with nothing in their campaign account- and then also add in the odds of a person with 9 days of law experience being given one of the most prestigious judge positions in the State outside of the Supreme Court and the odds of a person with a Nursing Degree even applying for law school, and the odds of Gov. Gregoire making an appointment on the one day every two years when a candidate can drop out of a race without challengers having the right to sign up for that race - at some point one crosses the line of possible to extremely improbable. But there are many more red flags that serve as further evidence that a crime has been committed.
Fourteenth, Sen. Pflug’s public statements about her break up with the Republican Party are absurd.
Cheryl Pflug complained that the Republican Party should not have appointed Dino Rossi to fill her vacant Senate seat. What makes this absurd is that being appointed to the Senate by the Republican Party was exactly how Cheryl Pflug received her first Senate Seat in 2004. She was appointed to fill Dino Rossi’s vacant seat when Dino ran for governor.
Below is a comment which explains how illogical this claim by Cheryl Pflug is:
She says she wasn't bought off, but literally everyone knows she was. How else to explain the timing? Dino Rossi left that seat to run for governor in 2003, and Pflug was appointed to fill the vacant seat, then won election the next time around. So while he can't run on the ballot for the next term, Rossi was a good candidate to finish out the current term, so he was appointed to do so, and Toft (the only Republican in the race) is being backed to replace her this fall. Pflug blasted this for some reason ... but I can't figure out why. She says Rossi and the state party are playing Godfather . So, they shouldn't appoint someone to fill her vacant seat, using the same process that got her the same job from a vacancy by the same man? They shouldn't back the only Republican in the race? Can anyone tell me what the heck she's talking about and how it makes any sense?
Under state law, the King County Council is responsible for appointing a successor to the Senate seat after Pflug resigns. The law calls for GOP officials to submit three candidates to the council for the open seat. Then, the council must make a selection within 60 days of Pflug’s resignation. Pflug, a 13-year legislator, ascended to the Senate through the same process, after then-Sen. Dino Rossi resigned to run for governor.
Yet on July 10th 2012 as the Primary Ballots were being mailed out, Cheryl Pflug issued a press release condemning the leaders of the Republican Party for doing what they has done years earlier in appointing her to the Senate.
The Title of the Pflug Press Release was:
Senator Pflug Criticizes Rossi Appointment Endorses Mark Mullet for Senate
Sen. Pflug used this news release as an excuse to endorse Democrat Mark Mullet – even though she had actually endorsed Mark Mullet before May 28th and well before the Republican Party had even considered who they might want to replace Cheryl in the Senate.
Pflug followed this press release with a Letter to the Editor which was published in the Issaquah Press on July 17th 2012 – again timed just as the ballots were being received by the voters in order to have the maximum manipulative effect on the voters. In the letter, Sen. Pflug accused the Republican Party of election maneuvering – even though they had used the exact same process to install her in the Senate in 2004. She again accused Brad Toft of unspecified “long history of questionable behavior.” Sen. Pflug failed to mention that she had decided to endorse Mark Mullet well before any of the “election maneuvering of the Republican Party.” Nor was she ever specific about the crimes Brad had supposedly committed. Sen. Pflug actually endorsed Mullet early enough to include her approval in Mullet’s Voter’s Guide statement.
Fifteenth, Cheryl Pflug’s complaints about Brad Toft are equally absurd.
In her July 10, 2012 press release, Sen. Pflug also accused the Republican Party of trying to conceal Brad Toft’s “history of egregious and disreputable behavior.” The problem here is that the egregious behavior was a simple civil dispute which Brad had dealt with 15 years earlier and which had been settled out of court. There was nothing disreputable about it.
The only honest part about Sen. Pflug’s press release was her statement that
“The people rarely know when they get sold out.”
Sadly, it was not the Republican Party who had sold the people out. It was Cheryl Pflug. Perhaps she felt she had to attack Brad Toft in order to deflect attention from her own illegal conduct. But in fact, the entire reason Brad Toft had decided to run against Sen. Pflug was that she it had become obvious to many who lived in the 5th District in East King County that Cheryl Pflug was not actually representing them in Olympia during the three years she was attending law school. In particular, Brad like many East King County residents was upset that Cheryl missed many votes in Olympia.
Sixteenth, between 2009 to 2012, Sen. Pflug missed a near record number of Senate votes since her decision to enter law school.
In the 2012 session, which includes the years 2011 and 2012, 61 legislators had no missed votes. According to Washington Votes.org, Cheryl Pflug missed 112 votes out of 1081 votes during the 2011 to 2012 session. Only one other Senator out of 4the 49 State Senators had more missed votes. . 63 of the votes were important enough to be Roll Call votes (or final votes on bills). This was the second highest missed number of roll call votes of any of the 147 members of the legislature.
In the 2009 to 2010 session, Sen. Pflug missed 198 votes out of 1388 votes. But in the second half (or the 2010 portion of the session), Sen. Pflug was 4th highest in missed votes in the entire legislature with 63 missed votes. For more information on Cheryl Pflug’s record of missed votes, visit: http://www.washingtonvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx
Ironically, it was all of Sen. Pflug’s missed votes which eventually prompted Brad Toft to challenge her.
Seventeenth, despite having missed a near record number of votes, Sen. Pflug also accepted the highest amount of Per Diem pay in the entire legislature.
Senators earn $42,106 per year. Senators also receive a per diem of $90 each day during the legislative session. The stipend helps lawmakers defray rent and meal expenses while in the capitol. Pflug accepted her per diem every day of the session, Senate records show.
Sen. Cheryl Pflug explained her 63 missed votes as hours spent meeting with the governor and studying more important issues. She was in Olympia for most of her missed votes, she said. She added that she’s also missed some votes from her time at law school.
So according to Sen. Pflug herself, she was meeting with the Governor on nearly a daily basis during the past three years – instead of casting votes in the Senate.
Eighteenth, in 2010 Sen. Pflug went on a trade mission to Vietnam with Governor Gregoire. There is little to no record of what the two discussed during this trade mission. But since Sen. Pflug is already on record as spending a great deal of time with the governor during the past three years, this trip may simply have been one more part of the bribe. After all, Sen. Pflug entered law school in August 2009 and it takes time to get into law school. So the bribe was almost certainly struck well before August 2009.
Nineteenth, the Growth Management Board not only pays very well, but it also has very little to do. A study of the Growth Management Board found that there was very little to do.
For example, the average year for the Central Hearing Board was only 21 decisions. This was only 7 decisions for each of three judges and they had an experienced attorney to help them right these 7 decisions. In 2008, the total case load was only 3 decisions per commissioner. So the workload is only a few days per year in hearings and a few days per year in writing decisions. They questioned whether some appointments have been based more on politics than qualifications. By contrast, regular King County Superior Court judges have years more experience and handle hundreds more cases every year. It is obvious that the Hearing Board is so ripe for corruption that it should simply be disbanded with the cases considered by normal (more experienced) judges. In addition, eliminating the one million dollars we currently spend on the corrupt do-nothing Growth Management Board would allow us to hire back 20 more of the thousands of teachers who have been fired during the past few years.
Twentieth, Sen. Pflug’s Personal and Financial Problems were also factors in accepting this bribe
In 2007, Cheryl Pflug went through an expensive contested divorce. After serving for years as a poorly paid legislator, she suddenly found herself as a single mom with tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills, four kids in need of a college education at $50,000 to $100,000 each and herself having a Master’s Degree in Nursing – but working at a job which paid little more than working at the Maple Valley McDonalds. It was public knowledge that she was not happy in Olympia and did not want to run for re-election in 2008. Sen. Pflug led the legislature in missed votes even before she enrolled in law school. Sen. Pflug eventually did run for re-election in 2008 – the same year Chris Gregoire won re-election for Governor. But it was very clear to everyone in Olympia that this would be Sen. Pflug’s last four years in the Senate. She desperately needed to find a solution to her financial problems and as she has publicly stated, being a senator was not working for her or for her family.
Knowing all of the above, what would you do if you were me?
“What we are witnessing here is a corporate crime wave.” Ralph Nader
Many in the Democratic Party have claimed that this is not my fight and I should simply ignore this crime. But I believe that corruption of our political system is everyone’s fight who believes in Democracy. And I believe that no one should ignore a blatant violation of our State Constitution. When you see a bank being robbed, a responsible citizen will call the police. The voters are the police of our Democracy and they have a right to know that a crime has been committed. Even our children are taught to not ignore a child being beaten up on the playground. So for me, ignoring the crime and the unjustified assault on Brad Toft’s character was not and is not an option.
While I do not personally know Brad Toft, I have many friends who do. The Snoqualmie Valley School District where Brad’s kids and my daughter attend school is a very small community. I have only met Brad once. In March, 2012, we met at the Snoqualmie Library as Brad wanted to know where I stood on certain issues and explain why he was running. I told him then that I understood his frustration with Cheryl Pflug’s lack of attendance in Olympia and that I had heard from many of my friends in Maple Valley that Sen. Pflug would not be running. So he may not have to run against her. After Mark Mullet and Cheryl Pflug started attacking Brad Toft, during the past few months, I investigated their allegations against Brad. I interviewed many of Brad’s neighbors. These were people who had known Brad and his wife for many years. They all assured me that Brad’s civil dispute with a former business partner had been resolved at least ten years earlier. The attacks against Brad were completely baseless.
Who was harmed by this bribe?
Those who defended the actions of Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Pflug maintain that no one has been harmed by this deal. I would therefore like to summarize all of those who have been harmed by this violation of our State Constitution.
First, Brad Toft has been harmed. He has been unfairly subjected to character assassination simply because he was willing to challenge Sen. Pflug. Those who have defended Chris Gregoire and Cheryl Pflug have said that anyone running for office should expect to have their character assassinated. I disagree.
Second, the Republican Party was harmed. They were deprived of being able to run their best known candidates for this Senate seat.
Third, the voters of East King County were harmed. Not only are they deprived of a fair election, but they have been manipulated into thinking that Brad Toft is a criminal and that Cheryl Pflug is some kind of saint – when the truth is that Cheryl Pflug is being paid one million dollars to pretend that Brad is a criminal.
Fourth, I have been harmed. I have knocked on more than 10,000 doors in East King County, but it has now become much more difficult for me to talk to voters on Snoqualmie Ridge – many of whom now believe that the Democratic Party is nothing but a pack of criminals. Finally, the Democratic Party has been harmed. As a brand name, all Democrats are harmed when any individual Democrat commits an illegal act. This was what I was trying to explain to the leaders of the Democratic Party. They may think they are getting a Senate Seat out of this corrupt deal – but the long term harm to the reputation of the Democratic Party is much worse than the short term benefit of getting a Senate Seat.
Have I presented enough evidence to meet the legal burden of proof of beyond any reasonable doubt? It is unlikely that either political party would be willing to prosecute Gov. Gregoire or Sen. Pflug despite the evidence I have outlined against them. It is not whether the evidence meets the standard of “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” I think most reasonable people will agree with me that it does. The problem is that Chris Gregoire is the most powerful person in our State right now and I am a mere teacher and parent from East King County. The other problem is that political corruption is rampant in our State right now. No one will want to make an example of Gov. Gregoire making a deal or a bribe or whatever you want to call it when billion dollar deals or bribes are made every day in Olympia. But there is another court besides the legal justice system – and that is the court of public opinion. My hope is that by exposing this crime, we will make elected officials think twice about giving million dollar bribes or accepting million dollar bribes - because maybe someone will have the guts to expose their crime. It is our only hope of preserving our democracy.
David Spring M. Ed.
Democratic Candidate for the State House of Representatives
5th Legislative District, East King County