Two troubling stories have surfaced in the last two days with regard to Dow Constantine and the race for King County Executive. On the surface, the stories appear to be unrelated, but there is a common thread.
The first story involves a case of possible inappropriate behavior towards a female employee of King County. Mark Griswold posted an update on this story today at Sound Politics that included an additional excerpt from one of the court documents. While the new information makes it clear that a formal complaint was never filed, the fact remains that someone or something in the work environment of this employee made her uncomfortable enough that she was motivated to discuss it with her supervisor. Since the Times request for records specified documents “alleging inappropriate comments or behavior by County Councilmember Dow Constantine,” we can be certain that “someone” was Dow Constantine.
The second story involves the blatantly improper use of TVW footage in a Dow Constantine campaign ad. Greg Lane, President and CEO at TVW, released a statement Thursday.
The Dow Constantine campaign is currently broadcasting a political ad that blatantly misuses TVW programming.
Yesterday, I spoke directly to representatives of the Constantine campaign, requesting that the offending ad be pulled from the air immediately. This morning, the campaign’s lawyers responded that the Constantine campaign is refusing to abide by our request. We are disappointed with their response, which completely ignores the public interest and the tradition of respect maintained for TVW’s unique role.
By refusing to pull the offending ad, the Dow Constantine campaign is showing complete disregard for the greater public interest role TVW plays in providing citizens unbiased and unedited access to the public policy process.
Why has Constantine’s campaign refused to pull the ads? Because they’ve decided that they probably know better than TVW how the footage should be used.
So what’s the common thread here?
It appears that Dow Constantine doesn’t recognize boundaries or if he does, he doesn’t acknowledge them as applying to him personally. You know people like this; they’re always standing just a little too close or leaving their hand on your shoulder just a little too long. They don’t understand that behavior that might be appropriate in a social setting is not appropriate in the workplace. They’re people who help themselves to things off your desk when you’re not there or ask to borrow things with values out of proportion to your relationship.
You can ask people like this to leave your desk alone when you’re not there and they very well may, but that won’t stop them from helping themselves to one of the sodas you left in the refrigerator. With no internal boundaries, everything is fair game. Is that really who we need heading King County?
Getting back to TVW. It is a non-profit corporation, not operated by the government, with the majority of their operating budget coming from contracts with the State of Washington. I’m not sure what other people might think but in my mind, that makes it close enough to being government funded that using their footage in a political campaign seems off limits.
Update 1: Here’s some more on Constantine’s unethical use of TVW footage from Bruce Ramsey at the Seattle Times and P. Scott Cummins. This is a disturbing trend on the part of Washington Democrats who make it increasingly clear that rules should never stand in the way of them getting what they want.