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Thursday, January 29, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Nicole Brodeur / Times staff columnist
Bush visit taxed all to raise cash


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Been waiting for Hunts Pointers to call about the $23,000 security bill they paid so President Bush could have lunch at Craig McCaw's place last August and pocket $1.7 million for dessert.

Looks like I'll die first.

Hunts Point is the second-most pro-Bush precinct in King County. Of the 320 votes cast there in the 2000 election, 219 went to Dubya.

What's $23,634.25 to an enclave of rich conservatives?

I'm betting it's something, though, to the 94 Hunts Pointers who voted for Al Gore, the six who voted for Ralph Nader and the lone wild man who voted for Pat Buchanan.

Just by paying their taxes, they kicked in for a hefty donation to the Re-elect President Bush campaign.

I think that would make me want to pick up the phone.

Town administrator Jack McKenzie clearly wished he hadn't when I called yesterday.

"No comment," McKenzie told me. "I do not want to discuss this issue. It's all over."

Then he hung up on me.

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(Look up "public servant" in the dictionary and you'll see McKenzie's mug.)

Can't blame the guy for being mad, really. That's 3 percent of the town's annual budget the Bush folks ate up like a can of cheese balls.

Fund-raiser host McCaw offered to pay the bill, but — darn! — campaign-finance laws prevent him from doing any more than putting on a $2,000-a-plate luncheon.

McCaw "ran down the channels" to get friends to cut a check, his spokesman said, but nope. Nothing. All the cellphone czar got was dead air.

So the bill will be paid by a surplus of cash that came when Hunts Point officials overestimated how much they would pay for police service last year.

I'd say they have more than enough security. I once pulled off 520 at Hunts Point to read a map. Within seconds, a squad car slowed down beside me.

Comes with the territory, I guess. Next door in Medina, solicitors like Girl Scouts are required to obtain a license, be photographed and submit to a criminal background check.

The way it works when a president visits: The Secret Service provides protection but does not reimburse the local badges for related security or traffic duty.

But this wasn't a presidential visit. Bush didn't come to confer with former resident Kenny G about the impact of mind-numbing woodwind music on America's youth. He came with his own interests in mind, and everyone paid the bill.

We're not the only place where Bush — and Bill Clinton in his time — did a little dine 'n' dash. In October, a Bush fund-raiser cost the city of Riverside, Calif., and Riverside County $145,000 in police and deputy overtime. Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge didn't mind. The attention the visit brought to his town, he said, was worth it.

But security isn't really the point here. It's the fact that residents who may not support a candidate are being forced to.

It's taxation without representation. It's why Boston held a tea party.

Campaign parties are different, I guess. And at $2,000 a plate, President Bush got a lot more than tea.

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.

Bet they didn't serve Constant Comment.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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