What's Rossi Up To?
"Dino was misquoted," Forward Washington Foundation director Ted Dahlstrom told me this week, when I asked him why Dino Rossi showed up to speak at a Republican fundraiser when Rossi had been quoted earlier saying he was supposed to be at a nonpartisan event. Indeed, a week ago, an Associted Press reporter quoted Rossi saying he was going to Yakima for a nonpartisan event (an "Idea Bank" forum) sponsored by Forward Washington, the nonpartisan nonprofit Rossi founded. "The reporter got that mixed up," Dahlstrom told me. "We were going to a campaign event."
If Dahlstrom is right and Rossi isn't in the habit of confusing his nonpartisan, nonprofit events with partisan Republican events (as a recent complaint filed by the Washington State Democrats alleges), and it's the AP reporter who got Rossi's schedule "mixed up," then Rossi should demand a correction and have every paper in the sate that ran the AP story set the record straight: Rossi was out stumping for the GOP, not hosting a nonpartisan brainstorm.
I'll gladly submit the correction on Rossi's behalf. "Dear AP: In your June 26 story about accusations that Rossi's group is illegally focused on partisan business, 'Dems Seek WA State Probe of Rossi Finances,' you reported that 'Rossi, reached by car phone as he traveled to Yakima for an Idea Bank forum sponsored by the foundation, dismissed the accusations as unfounded.' That was inaccurate. Rossi was traveling to Yakima for partisan purposes to speak at the Yakima Convention Center at a fundraiser for GOP state senate candidate Jim Clements."
Rossi's itinerary in Yakima (with Dahlstrom) is of interest because—thanks to the Democrats' complaint about Forward Washington's raison d'être ("[it's] nothing more than Rossi's unofficial campaign committee," they allege)—people want some clarity about what Rossi's been up to lately. Is the presumed Republican gubernatorial candidate using his nonprofit for partisan campaigning (which is verboten)?
This is an important question because if nonprofits break the rules and take up partisan causes, they lose 501(c)4 privileges such as being able to accept unlimited donations from undisclosed donors. Forward Washington is allowed to accept unlimited donations from undisclosed donors. Since their finances are secret, I don't know if Forward Washington footed the bill for Rossi's swing out to Yakima with Dahlstrom.
However, his trip to Yakima, coordinated nicely with two eastern state Forward Washington events the next day, certainly kept him in the spotlight (sort of like campaigns are supposed to do), netting an article in the Yakima Herald that reported on the standing ovation Rossi received and about his grudge match with Governor Gregoire.
Meanwhile, the AP reporter who wrote the original article was on vacation this week, so I couldn't get his side of the story. Maybe he got the quote right, and in fact it's Rossi who's got things mixed up.