Two weeks ago in this column, I dinged Governor Gregoire for failing to provide any leadership on Initiative 912, the gas-tax repeal. That got the governor's office all bent out of shape.
From: "Coughlin, Kerry"
Josh: Your characterization of Governor Gregoire as indecisive or not speaking out on the state's transportations needs and the importance of the gas tax couldn't be further from the truth. She showed great leadership in getting this critical funding passed. Governor Gregoire has continued to be outspoken, providing information on transportation projects funded by the tax and their importance.
Governor Gregoire has given more than 16 major addresses around the state in just the last six weeks that included information on transportation projects vital to saving lives and maintaining our economic momentum.
While the governor has not been specifically campaigning against I-912, she considers it very important that people be informed about the transportation needs of the state and she has been working hard to help meet that need for information.
I don't know how your query to our office was framed, but a quick online search would have demonstrated that the premise for your column was inaccurate.
—Kerry Coughlin, Communications Director to Governor Christine Gregoire
To: "Coughlin, Kerry"
Kerry: My query to your office was framed exactly as I presented it in the column. I told Nancy Jackson [in your communications department] that I could not find any statements by Governor Gregoire on I-912. I said I found that hard to believe. I asked if Governor Gregoire had issued any statements on I-912, and I asked if she had a position on I-912. Jackson told me she would call me back. She called back about 15 minutes later to say Gregoire had not issued any statements on I-912. I asked if any would be forthcoming. Jackson repeated that Governor Gregoire had not spoken out on I-912.
P.S. - Woah. Wait a minute?! Kerry, I just gave your e-mail a closer read. Governor Gregoire "has given 16 major addresses around the state in just the last six weeks that included information on transportation projects ..." (without mentioning I-912?!?). Kerry, that highlights the whole point of my column. I didn't say Gregoire is indecisive "about transportation needs." I said she was indecisive about I-912. The fact that Gregoire has been outspoken about transportation needs—and helped pass the tax—only makes the fact that she hasn't aggressively come out against 912 more embarrassing. It also sends a mixed message... which, some could argue, is the definition of "indecisive."
From: "Coughlin, Kerry"
Josh: As you know, the governor cannot conduct political campaign activities on state time.
A final thought for Kerry: Jim Pharris, senior assistant attorney general in the state's AGs office, told me that as long as Gregoire isn't doing dumb stuff like using a state copy machine or state letterhead to denounce I-912, she's allowed to "comment freely" on the initiative. And as you know Kerry, RCW 42.52.180 says: "It is not a violation for an elected official to respond to an inquiry regarding a ballot proposition." If you didn't consider my telephone call to your office an inquiry into the governor's position on I-912, please consider this column one. What is Gregoire's position on I-912?