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Originally published October 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 17, 2008 at 12:46 AM

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Lands-commissioner candidate Peter Goldmark files ethics complaint

State Lands Commissioner candidate Peter Goldmark filed an ethics complaint this week, alleging a Republican consultant broke state law by working for an opposition campaign while serving on a state board that rules on logging permits.

Seattle Times environment reporter

State Lands Commissioner candidate Peter Goldmark filed an ethics complaint this week, alleging a Republican consultant broke state law by working for an opposition campaign while serving on a state board that rules on logging permits.

Goldmark's complaint to the state Executive Ethics Board says John Giese broke ethics laws by working as a paid consultant for the Committee for Balanced Stewardship. The political group, funded almost entirely by timber interests, is trying to defeat Democrat Goldmark in his bid to unseat two-term incumbent Republican Doug Sutherland.

The lands commissioner runs the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees 5 million acres of state land, as well as logging on private timberland.

Giese, who has been paid $9,000 by the political group, according to state records, also serves on a state board that acts much like a court, hearing appeals of permits issued by the state Department of Natural Resources.

That, Goldmark said, means he could be ruling on cases in which the timber industry or Sutherland have a stake.

"This clearly seems to violate the ethics rule that he remain neutral from the parties that come before him," Goldmark said.

Giese, however, said he has done work for the timber industry as a public-relations consultant in the past, and it has never been raised as an issue, including at his Senate confirmation hearing. He said a fellow board member, an attorney, has done work for environmental groups.

Giese was appointed to the six-year post by Democratic Gov. Gary Locke in 2003, and his term is about to expire.

"I believe this is a totally bogus attempt to get attention by a political candidate whose campaign is rapidly fading," Giese said.

Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or wcornwall@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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