I am writing to express a concern about recent campaign advertisements made by Geoff Simpson, a candidate for the state Legislature representing the 47th District wherein I reside.
This week through the mail I received a multipage campaign ad paid for by Citizens to Re-elect Geoff Simpson (Democrat). Within the flyer two images were included which I found to be disingenuous; a picture of Mr. Simpson wearing bunker gear standing in front of Kent Fire Department’s ladder 74 and another image of Simpson standing with an unidentified person, presumably a police officer, using a Kent police patrol car as a backdrop. The ladder truck image is used prominently on the endorsements page of www.votesimpson.com.
My concern and confusion lies in why would the city of Kent would allow their public agencies to directly or indirectly endorse a political candidate? In the case of the image involving the fire department, my tax dollars go towards the fire district that operates ladder 74 and I find it offensive that a public resource was used in this way. Placing the image squarely on an endorsement page of a website implies support. Illustrating a campaign ad with a Kent police cruiser suggests city endorsement. I believe both instances would violate the letter, or at least the spirit, of RCW (revised code of Washington) 42.17.530 (Political advertising or electioneering communication — Libel or defamation per se.)
This issue is even more scandalous and inflammatory when considering the very recent allegations against Mr. Simpson involving domestic violence assault from a May 2010 incident at Seattle Children’s Hospital. According to the news article, Mr. Simpson’s abhorrent behavior led the Seattle City Attorney’s Office to file charges. This was not the first incident of domestic violence for which Simpson has been accused.
I cannot believe the police department, whose stated mission is to, “Aggressively Fight Crime, Impartially Protect Rights and Identify and Solve Problems” and the Fire Department’s mission of, “Professionally and compassionately helping people” can be reconciled against endorsing persons accused of repeated acts of domestic violence. I have a tremendous respect for our public servants having been raised in a law enforcement family and I currently work for an organization closely aligned with the fire service. I would be profoundly disappointed to learn our protectors are supporting a repeat offender who in my opinion is unfit to serve as an elected representative, much less a firefighter.
I object to the use of these agencies as a prop in an attempt to repair the image of Mr. Simpson following his alleged criminal activity. I hope the city would take appropriate action to seek a retraction of this implied endorsement and investigate whether or not a violation of the above stated RCW has occurred and what penalties may apply.
Editor’s note: Dan Cuccia informed city of Kent officials about his concerns regarding Rep. Geoff Simpson’s use of images of city property as a prop in campaign advertising. The officials stated in an e-mail response to Cuccia city policy does not allow the use of city property, logos or uniforms in political campaign advertising and the property used in the ads were done without the city’s knowledge. Officials forwarded the e-mail sent to Cuccia outlining the city’s concerns with the images in the ad to the compliance director at the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.