Republicans tear into Pope
After enduring weeks of negative publicity about King County Councilwoman Jane Hague, the Republican Party is fighting back with a mailing...
Seattle Times staff reporter
After enduring weeks of negative publicity about King County Councilwoman Jane Hague, the Republican Party is fighting back with a mailing and a Web site that accuse Democratic challenger Richard Pope of threatening and harassing women and being personally unstable.
The first of two planned mailings attacking Pope reached voters in the Eastside's District 6 this past week. The mailing refers readers to a Republican-sponsored Web site, www.thetruthonpope.com.
Republican leaders are making the attacks on Pope to counter weeks of bad news for Hague, a Republican who is completing her fourth term on the County Council.
Hague, 61, who was arrested in June on suspicion of drunken driving, agreed last month to pay an $8,000 fine for campaign-finance violations, and The Seattle Times last month published a 1993 biographical sketch she signed that claimed a college degree she didn't have.
"We have felt for some time that the stories in the press about this race weren't telling both sides," said county Republican Chairman Michael Young. "As it got closer to the election, it didn't look like anyone was going to write about his record, and we felt an obligation to make sure voters had that information."
Young said the party is about to mail a second flier that "talks about his record, his anger-management issues, particularly among women."
Pope, 45, a Bellevue lawyer, admits some of the claims but disputes others and calls the Republican advertising "absolutely disgusting."
Young declined to say how much money the county GOP has budgeted for the mailings or how widely they are being distributed, but said he expects "pretty broad coverage" of council District 6, which includes most of Bellevue, Kirkland and Mercer Island.
The election is Nov. 6, and absentee ballots are scheduled to be mailed out in less than two weeks. Pope, who has run for various offices under both the Democratic and Republican banner, has not been endorsed by King County Democrats in his race against Hague.
Until now, Hague's problems have dominated the news, although The Seattle Times reported during Pope's race for King County District Court judge last year that he had been sanctioned or fined by judges at least half a dozen times for missing deadlines, filing frivolous motions and other court delays.
The GOP Web site resembles a newspaper, with headlines declaring, "Pope has a history of harassing women," "Pope rated 'Not Qualified' ... again," and, "Pope has a history of instability."
Large red print proclaims, "5,586,087 people said NO to hate, said NO to harassing women and said NO TO POPE in elections since 1996!" That number apparently is based on the number of no votes in Pope's 10 unsuccessful campaigns.
The articles on the Web site — with "top staff reporters" bylines — report a number of incidents and issues, including an angry outburst by Pope toward a client's former wife; Bar Association and Municipal League ratings of Pope as not qualified for office, and a judge's removal of Pope from a lawsuit.
"They try to make me look like I'm some kind of stalker or I have problems of violence against women. This is absolutely ridiculous," Pope said of the Republican Web site and mailing.
He acknowledged losing his temper and calling an opposing lawyer "a damn liar" in a 1995 deposition, but he denied threatening the lawyer's female client, as the Republican Party alleges.
Pope complained to state Attorney General Rob McKenna on Thursday that the GOP violated state law by failing to report an expenditure of more than $5,000 to the Public Disclosure Commission within a day after mailing a campaign ad.
Here are some of the allegations made against Pope on the GOP Web site and key facts about the claims:
• The allegation: "Pope has a history of harassing women. ... Richard Pope had two restraining orders against him because he threatened a woman who had been physically abused by her ex-husband whom Pope was representing."
The facts: King County Superior Judge Carol Schapira granted a temporary anti-harassment order in 1995 and then a one-year order to protect a client's ex-wife from Pope. The woman and her lawyer said in court papers Pope grew red in the face during a deposition, sent papers flying and lunged at them across the table. Several months earlier, a courthouse security officer witnessed Pope speaking to the woman in a hallway "in a loud and threatening manner," according to a Washington Bar Association document.
Pope's behavior led to disciplinary proceedings by the Bar Association, which reached a stipulation with Pope in 1999. Pope acknowledged turning red with anger, knocking papers around and calling the opposing lawyer a liar. He denies that he lunged.
Pope agreed in the Bar stipulation that uncontrolled anger could demonstrate "unfitness to practice law," and he agreed his behavior "was sufficiently egregious to warrant a public warning."
• The allegation: "Pope has persistent and serious instability issues that have prevented him from performing his job competently." The Web site reports that he said his "mental health situation is terrible," and was removed from a case last year by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman.
The facts: Asked by the court in 2005 to show why a lawsuit shouldn't be dismissed because of missed deadlines, Pope gave the court a lengthy account of the personal problems he said were interfering with his handling of the case: his father's death, caring for his severely disabled daughter, and his own mental state.
"Counsel believes that he suffers from serious depression and post-traumatic-stress disorder," he wrote of himself. "This is not a qualified medical opinion, but is counsel's own opinion, and seems to be concurred in by counselors he has been seeing."
Pechman removed Pope from the case in January 2006.
Pope says his mental condition and his ability to work have improved since then.
• The allegation: Pope sued Costco last year, claiming that its three-month "Emergency Food Supply" offers fewer daily calories than the starvation diet of Auschwitz death-camp prisoners in World War II. He claimed religious discrimination because his beliefs required him to keep a one-year supply of food. He requested class-action status for the case.
The facts: Pope, identifying himself in court papers as a recent Mormon convert, said the church recommends keeping a year's supply of food. Religious discrimination was among the reasons for his lawsuit. In May, the court granted Pope's request to dismiss the case.
• The allegation: A complaint has been filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) against Pope for "poorly filing" his personal contributions to his campaign.
The facts: PDC staff informed Pope on Thursday it would not investigate the complaint against him, but it asked him to resubmit one illegible form and include employment information and totals of his loans on future reports.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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