In last week's CounterIntel column, I criticized Gov. Gregoire for failing to come out against I-912. Gregoire's Communications Director, Kerry Coughlin, e-mailed to say I had it all wrong. You be the judge. Here's our e-mail exchange:

*****

From: "Coughlin, Kerry"
To: "'josh@thestranger.com'"
Subject: Aug 11 column

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 recently passed by the Legislature couldn't be further from the truth. She showed great leadership, as did our state legislators, 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 to the economic well being and safety of people in Washington state.

Sponsored

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. I have attached a list of recent appearances. Articles from around the state document her outspokenness on this issue:

"Gov. Christine Gregoire brought her message that gas taxes are good for public safety and the local economy to Yakima on Tuesday..." (Yakima Herald-Republic, July 13).

"...Gov. Christine Gregoire told reporters on a conference call that Washington's economic future depends in large part on fixing its transportation mess. 'To turn back now would be a terrible mistake,' she said." (The Seattle Times, June 20).

There are numerous similar articles and broadcast stories.

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. Governor Gregoire remains committed to, and outspoken on, what she believes is the right thing for the future of our state.

Kerry Coughlin
Communications Director to Governor Christine Gregoire

*****

To: "Coughlin, Kerry"
From: josh@thestranger.com
Subject: Re: Aug 11 column
Cc: savage@thestranger.com

Kerry:
My query to your office was framed exactly as I presented it in my article. Specifically: I told Nancy Jackson [in your media dept.] that we could not find any statements by Gov. Gregoire on I-912. I said I found that hard to believe. I asked if Gov. Gregoire had issued any statements 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 Gov. Gregoire had not spoken out on I-912 at this time.

You write: "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."

My article calls on Gov. Gregoire to specifically campaign against I-912 and not tip toe around the issue. Informing people about the transportation needs of the state is hardly coming out against 912. In fact, I'd consider it tip toeing.

-Josh

p.s.

Wait a minute?! Kerry, I just gave your letter a closer read. Gov. 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. My colleague Amy Jenniges says your response merits a second column on the subject as more evidence of how poorly the Gregoire administration is handling I-912. For the record, my column didn't say, as you couch it, that Gregoire is indecisive about transportation needs. I said she was indecisive about I-912. The fact that she has been outspoken about transportation needs only makes her reticence on I-912 all the more painful and embarrassing. It also sends a mixed message...which, some could argue, is the definition of "indecisive."

*****

From: "Coughlin, Kerry"
To: josh@thestranger.com
Cc: savage@thestranger.com
Subject: RE: Aug 11 column

Josh:

As you know, the Governor and her staff cannot conduct political campaign activities on state time.

Kerry

*****

To: "Coughlin, Kerry"
From: josh@thestranger.com
Subject: RE: Aug 11 column
Cc: savage@thestranger.com

Kerry:
In doing my reporting for that column, I called the PDC and asked specifically if Gregorie was prohibited from speaking out. I was told by Lori Anderson at the PDC that Gregoire could "lobby at will" thanks to the State Executive Ethics Act. Anderson told me: "Elected officials can make statements in response to initiatives."

-Josh

(And then, Dan S., cc'd on this whole thing, weighs in)

Support The Stranger

*****

To: "Coughlin, Kerry"
From: Dan Savage "savage@thstranger.com"
Subject: RE: Aug 11 column
Cc: josh@thestranger.com

doesn't the Governor get nights and weekends off? couldn't she campaign then?

just a thought.

dan