Conflicted Candidate

Last week, the state attorney general's office sued the state Republican Party for alleged campaign violations. The Public Disclosure Commission found in late September that the party used more than $200,000 from a soft-money account, which can't be used to promote specific candidates, to send three mailers encouraging voters to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. If found guilty, the party could face a fine of as much as $10,000 per violation.

Also last week, state Democrats called for Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, to recuse himself from the case to avoid an apparent conflict of interest. Luke Esser, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, worked with McKenna on the King County Council and at the AG's office.

Janelle Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the AG's office, says McKenna "has screened himself from this case and delegated attorney-general decision-making capability to his chief deputy, Brian Moran."

It will be a long time before the party's lawyers see a judge: The case isn't scheduled for a hearing in King County Superior Court until March 2010. DOMINIC HOLDEN

Last Dance?

The owners of Neighbours, the 25-year-old gay dance club, filed a lawsuit last week fighting for their right to remain in a warehouse-style building on Capitol Hill. In early August, the building's owners sent a letter to the club's owners terminating their lease and ordering them to vacate by the end of the month.

In the letter, the landlords claim the lease the bar's owners signed this March allows them to use the space as a "tavern... commissary, restaurant... and cabaret," not a dance club. The letter also alleges that Neighbours' owners remodeled the space without permission and let patrons take liquor outside, as examples of further lease violations.

"We don't think there is any merit whatsoever to the landlords' claims," says Mark Kimball, an attorney representing Neighbours, who adds that Neighbours' owners made no secret of the fact that they were running a dance club. DOMINIC HOLDEN

Down-Ballot Dirt

Accusations flew this week in the race for 36th District state representative, with each of the two Democrats in the race accusing the other of fighting dirty. Reuven Carlyle's supporters accused his opponent, John Burbank, of using a list of 2008 Democratic Party caucus attendees to blast district residents with e-mails implying Carlyle was a Republican. Carlyle also alleges Burbank unfairly stacked the deck in his favor during the 36th District nomination process by using the caucus list to rally supporters and recruit new precinct committee officers and district members to his cause, in violation of party rules.

Burbank, meanwhile, has accused Carlyle of violating a "clean campaign pledge" both candidates signed last week by calling him "a 30-year Olympia lobbyist and party campaign aide" with "old-style, antagonistic politics." In a campaign mailer, Burbank says he's an advocate, not a lobbyist; however, Carlyle's supporters note that Burbank is registered as a lobbyist with the state Public Disclosure Commission. ERICA C. BARNETT

Hippie Shakeup

The developer of a new shopping center has sued grocery giant Whole Foods, alleging the company broke the terms of its lease when it tried to delay the opening of a planned store in the Interbay neighborhood and reduce its size from 60,000 to 40,000 square feet. The developer, TRF Pacific, says the grocery store's absence will cost it millions of dollars and "create an appearance of a ghost town at the Whole Foods Interbay Shopping Center."

According to Whole Foods regional president John Clougher, the company has "been in ongoing discussions with TRF about downsizing the Interbay store for several months."

Whole Foods has four other stores in the Seattle area, with another scheduled to open in the Fauntleroy Place shopping center in 2010. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE recommended