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Originally published October 31, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 31, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Election 2007

Defamation suit filed over Hague claim

A "voter alert" mailed by King County Councilmember Jane Hague incorrectly says a vocal supporter of her opponent was convicted of assault...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A "voter alert" mailed by King County Councilmember Jane Hague incorrectly says a vocal supporter of her opponent was convicted of assault.

The Richard Pope supporter, Paul Brecht, was convicted in 2001 of violating a no-contact order by talking to his wife by telephone and meeting her at a shopping center. An earlier charge of assaulting his wife was dismissed.

Pope, the Democratic nominee, filed a defamation lawsuit on Brecht's behalf in King County Superior Court Monday against longtime Republican Councilmember Hague, her husband, Ed Springman, and her campaign consultants, Madison Communications, Brett Bader and Jeff Davis.

Mark Lamb, a lawyer for Hague's campaign, said Tuesday the allegation of an assault conviction was based on a Renton police report that said Brecht was convicted of violating a no-contact order.

The police report classified the incident under a "crime code" of simple assault. Renton police Sgt. Paul Cline said Tuesday the crime code is typically added by administrative staff for tracking purposes after the investigating officer files a report.

Officer Norman Ryan wrote that Brecht's wife said Brecht called her in February 2001 and she agreed to meet him because she feared she would otherwise lose her children. Brecht told the officer they met at her request.

"The only thing I was ever guilty of was violating a no-contact order," Brecht said Tuesday.

The court had issued the no-contact order after Brecht was charged with fourth-degree domestic violence assault on his wife. He pleaded not guilty to that charge, and it was later dismissed.

Lamb said Hague campaign staffers were "going on the information they had" when they wrote that Brecht was convicted of assault. "I suppose you could make an argument it would be more accurate to say he was convicted of domestic violence," Lamb said, referring to his violation of the no-contact order. "The campaign felt that was too inflammatory to include in the thing."

"They chose language that was totally false," Pope said. "Now that they've been exposed as having told a lie, they're trying to justify it instead of apologize for it. That's typical of how Jane has handled everything throughout her campaign and her career in public service."

Lamb said he doesn't believe Hague owes Brecht an apology. "It appears that Mr. Pope's complaint was that the piece didn't say that Mr. Brecht was convicted of domestic violence. That's an odd complaint."

The Hague campaign targeted Brecht along with Pope, after a Pope flier quoted Brecht in support of Pope.

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Hague responded with an ad that contradicted a number of Pope's claims and attacked Brecht, an electrician. "Paul Brecht tops Pope's endorsement list," according to the Hague mailing.

"Brecht also tops law enforcement's list with multiple domestic violence arrests and at least one assault conviction."

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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