Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fred Walser Fails to Keep Confidences

Some people are angry at us for posting the truth about Fred Walser. They call it "mud-slinging." But we don't make irrelevant personal attacks, or spread lies, as Walser is doing about Senator Val Stevens. We are giving facts, and providing evidence, about subjects that are directly relevant to Walser's ability to serve in elected office.

For example: Walser's pattern of not keeping confidences as part of his official capacity as a public servant, improperly revealing confidential information to department personnel, and to the media.

In our review of the Pepperell scandal, we learned that as part of his coverup, Walser -- despite specifically being told not to -- warned Pepperell that she was to be interviewed by the Washington State Patrol as part of their official investigation of her. Of course, this potentially allowed Pepperell to conduct further coverups, in preparation for that interview.

And it wasn't the first time. In 1994, he did the same thing.

In his May-June 1994 appraisal -- as part of his probation as a new lieutenant with the WSP -- he was told:
Statements of worth of his subordinates from administrative staff should not be broadly discussed in an open forum. ... He has shown a tendency to let stress control his emotions. This was demonstrated when Internal Affairs served a no contact order. ...

Fred has divulged comments of other command staff to other employees. Items of employee performance discussed at staff meetings will be kept confidential. Comply with the Internal Affairs' directive to not have contact with anyone regarding their investigation. You may only discuss this issue with myself. Phone calls and written correspondence apply.

His problems with keeping confidences were not limited to personnel investigations, but also included, on multiple occasions, revealing confidential information about pending criminal cases to the news media, against department regulations, and jeopardizing a criminal prosecution.

In August of 1991, a truck ran a stop light and killed the driver, as well as a mother and her 12-year old daughter. Walser told a reporter that he had never seen such a blatant case of "wanton disregard for public safety. ... It's the most aggravated case of blatant disregard for life I have ever seen."

By this time, King County Prosectors had not even yet decided whether to prosecute the trucking company, and his written reprimand noted, "Detailed information and personnel opinions relating to the defendant's guilt were prejudicial and argumentative to a criminal case."

Mistakes happen, but just over a year later, he did the same thing again. This time he didn't merely receive a reprimand for releasing information, but got an additional violation for insubordination, and lost two days of leave.

Any elected official must be able to keep confidences to do their job. Walser has shown on multiple occasions over many years, and leading up to the incident that resulted in his criminal conviction and one-year jail sentence this June, that he is sometimes either incapable or unwilling to do so.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walser's State Patrol Records Reveal More of the Same

The big problem with Fred Walser -- Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 39th LD -- is not simply in what he did in committing his crime, but that a very clear pattern of disturbing and unbecoming behavior has emerged throughout his career.

As Police Chief of Sultan, he covered up, he minimized his wrongdoing, he disobeyed superiors, he ignored rules, and he went after people who got in his way.

He did the same things at the Washington State Patrol.

Walser joined the WSP as a cadet in 1967, and retired in 1995 to run for Snohomish County Sheriff. Walser initially announced his retirement for March, thinking he would be appointed Sheriff, but when Patrick Murphy was appointed instead, he pushed his retirement to June. He once again lost to Murphy in the Democratic primary, ironically saying that "Patrick Murphy is an affront to law enforcement" because of his "untruthfulness" on many issues."

Just two years earlier, the son of Walser's friend Pat Slack -- Pat Slack, Jr. -- was involved in an accident. Walser was an accident investigator for the WSP and was authorized for an off-duty private traffic collision reconstruction business, and decided to help out the Slacks on his own time, completely unrelated to his work with the State Patrol.

Unfortunately, Walser identified himself in the report as a reconstructionist with the WSP, something he was explicitly forbidden from doing in his signed off-duty employment authorization (as well as in a similar authorization seven years earlier).

Walser concluded that Slack, Jr. was not at fault, and that his reconstruction represented "the only way the collision could have occurred." Unfortunately, this directly contradicted the report by the Snohomish Police. The WSP's Traffic Investigation Division out of Tacoma agreed with the police.

But when proven wrong, rather than backing down, Walser did testify in court that his original "only way" conclusion and the police/TID conclusion were both wrong, but then he provided a new theory to exonerate Slack, Jr. TID once again testified that Walser was wrong.

The WSP told Walser his actions:
cost the department and the Snohomish Police Department several thousand dollars, lessened the public's confidence in the department's operation and training, and was motivated by your friendship to Patrick Slack, Sr.

Walser finally agreed to his penalty for the Slack incident on December 20, 1993 -- ironically, the very day before he was promoted to lieutenant.

As with all new lieutenants, Walser was under probation, and was subject to regular performance appraisals. In his May-June 1994 appraisal, his superior writes that:
recent disciplinary action prior to reporting to this assignment has not changed his attitude. He has been adamant that he would do the same thing again if confronted with the same circumstances. This type of action will further subject the patrol to monetary liability.

In the July-August appraisal, it only gets worse.
Walser's judgment is not conducive to a good working relationship with his peers, nor in keeping with advice and counsel of his superiors. ... Fred has made serious allegations resulting in no significant findings. Fred's credibility will be affected by this action. ...

His recent allegations involving TID commanders have had a devastating impact between divisions, particularly when Fred or his units are involved. ... Fred has filed counter allegations against previous command staff. ... this type of action increases the Patrol's investigative costs and potential monetary liability. It is my opinion that Fred's motives are completely self-serving without regard to the internal damage his allegation causes. I question Fred's self-discipline, integrity, reliability, and conduct over the issues bringing disciplinary action and his subsequent allegations and actions.

Walser attempted to dodge and minimize the allegations in his response: "Whether or not I agree with [the] statement is immaterial -- my actions and enthusiasm will demonstrate my loyalty, integrity, and reliability."

The September-October appraisal contains more of the same:
Fred's self-discipline, integrity and conduct are in doubt. The investigation into his allegation against two command personnel has concluded. Fred's allegations were unfounded. At the end of this reporting period, it was brought to my attention that Fred's conduct and integrity should continue to be in doubt. ... His emotional outbursts and attempts to justify his alleged improper decisions are examples of poor conduct on his part. Fred's reliability in the area of setting positive examples is seriously questioned.

It's the same old Fred Walser story, over and over. Covering up. Minimizing wrongdoing. Disobeying superiors. Ignoring rules. Going after people who get in his way.

Whether it was the Slack incident, the fallout from it that followed him into his probationary period as lieutenant, or the Pepperell incident, it's the same things.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Evidence Against Fred Walser

We realize that not everyone has followed all that we've written about Democratic Senate candidate Fred Walser, and we've written so much, and made so many serious claims, that some people think that some of what we say isn't true. We assure you, every word we've claimed is true.

But it is, of course, understandable that people want to see the evidence without digging through the thousands of words we've written, so here's a summary of the major claims, with direct links and quotations. If there's anything in here you believe is not well-sourced enough, or if you have any questions, please let us know, and we will provide whatever information is required.

The main document used for much of the evidence is the Everett Police Department report of the investigation of Walser. It is in three parts (hosted on the KIRO TV web site), and it is referenced below by page number (e.g., "EPD p. 1"): pages 1-9, pages 10-20, and pages 21-31. Other documents will be linked directly.

The claims are as follows, that Fred Walser:

Those are the claims. Here's the evidence.

  • Fred Walser pled guilty in June 2008, and was sentenced to one year in jail

    See the actual guilty plea and sentencing papers, as well as various news articles. His jail sentence was suspended, except for 30 days, and that 30 days was converted to 240 hours of community service. He also received a $500 fine, $20,000 restitution to the City of Sultan, and a year of probation. He did not admit guilt when he pled guilty, but he did admit that the evidence was strong enough to convict him beyond reasonable doubt, and we agree.

  • Fred Walser may not serve in office if he goes to jail for his crime

    As noted above, his one-year sentence was suspended. If he violates probation or does not complete a key portion of his sentence -- the $20,000 restitution due on October 23, 2008 -- his suspended sentence could be enacted.

    Further, he has 30 eight-hour days of community service to fulfill, which must be completed by June 2009, and will take away from any ability to serve in office, if not completed before the election.

  • Fred Walser received a log and faked a replacement log the very same day

    On March 9, 2006, Detective Steve Clinko of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office went to see, individually, Fred Walser and Caroline Pepperell as part of an investigation about whether Pepperell had poisoned Gayle Harvie's dogs. (EPD p. 2) Clinko gave Walser a log proving that Pepperell had used the ACCESS system to investigate Harvie the previous year. Walser told Clinko he would handle it.

    On May 18, 2006, Walser met with a city attorney and the city clerk, to give them information in response to a public records request by Harvie for all the ACCESS logs. Walser provided a log he created with Pepperell -- dated the same day he met with Clinko, March 9, 2006 -- that showed Harvie's name had NOT been run through ACCESS.

  • Fred Walser warned Pepperell that she was to be interviewed by the State Police

    While Pepperell was under investigation by the Washington State Patrol, Fred Walser was instructed not to inform her that she was to be interviewed. He did anyway. When confronted, he said "he knew exactly what he was doing." (EPD p. 18)

  • Fred Walser violated a direct order from the mayor

    On October 24, 2006, Mayor Tolson ordered Walser to train Tami Peavey to replace Caroline Pepperell on the ACCESS system, and to remove Pepperell from ACCESS by November 3. (EPD p. 11) Walser refused to do so. It never happened. (EPD pp. 14-15, 17-18)

  • Fred Walser filed a false sexual harassment complaint

    Walser filed a sexual harassment complaint against Peavey, Pepperell's proposed replacement. (EPD pp. 3, 11-12) The complaint was dismissed, and one of the officers that Walser swears told him about the incident, vehemently denied being involved and actually filed a union grievance against Walser for including him in the report. Rather than addressing the complaint on its merits, Walser told investigators he "didn't understand" the officer's "sensitivity to the matter since he was not the object of the harassment." (EPD p. 14)

  • Fred Walser tried to convince Sheriff Rick Bart to violate the law

    Walser met Snohomish County Sheriff Bart on May 22, 2007 (a few days after being informed of the internal investigation) at a law enforcement convention. (EPD pp. 3, 24-25) At that meeting, Walser insisted that Bart not disclose records mentioned in an incoming public records requests from Harvie because it was an "internal matter." It was not. (Bart fulfilled the records request.)

  • Fred Walser is guilty of more than a mere "clerical error"

    Taken alone, one could be justified in thinking that it was a mere "clerical error" as Walser claims. But there is a clear pattern of behavior to protect Pepperell (and himself) that shows otherwise: his direct violation of a mayoral order to take Pepperell off ACCESS; his false sexual harassment complaint against Pepperell's replacement; his attempt to get Sheriff Bart to violate public records law; and, of course, the fact that Walser and Pepperell printed up a faked replacement log the same day he was given the original log, and his behavior in the wake of that act.

    On August 24, 2006, the Washington State Patrol told Walser and the city attorney that Clinko's report revealed that Pepperell had accessed Harvie; Walser "seemed surprised" and did not reveal that Clinko had ever told him the same thing, which he had on March 9. (EPD p. 3)

    Five days later, on August 29, 2006, in an executive staff meeting, Walser said that the department wouldn't "come out clean" on the investigation.

    On October 3, 2006, city attorneys first discovered that Walser had known about the Clinko report for months; on October 24, WSP investigators met with city officials, put all the pieces together, and decided that there would have to be an internal investigation of Walser.

    On May 17, 2007, Walser received notification that there was an internal investigation of him coming, and Walser claimed he did not get a report from Clinko, and that he had turned over everything he had in response to the public records request.

    A week later, on May 24, Walser met with Mayor Tolson. (EPD p. 14) Walser asked if he could get through this without an internal investigation. (EPD p. 16) Walser said he had the "Clinko memo," that it was in his file all along, that he flagged it, and knew where it was. (EPD p. 15, 17, 20)

    Walser asked, "How do we fix this? How do we make this go away? What do I need to do?", and "If I screwed up, I screwed up." (EPD. p. 19) Then he "said something to the effect that his time had run its course and that he wanted to be told what to do now." Tolson left that up to Walser, and they decided he should resign, and he did so the next day. (EPD p. 15)

    Walser did not "remember" he had the document until he was confronted, over a year later, with an internal affairs investigation, and then he immediately said that it was flagged and in his file all along. Walser said, variously, that it was a mere "clerical error," that it was "a report in my file that I absolutely forgot about." The facts show he is lying now, as he was lying then.

  • Fred Walser knew Pepperell had a history of abuses when he hired her

    This was included in the KIRO TV report on May 14, 2007: Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Scott Smith said, "[Pepperell] ran over 200 license plates of individuals for personal use. The investigation determined she would attend various functions, rodeos or different establishments and typically would find an individual she would find attractive, get their license plate and run their license plate." KIRO reporter Chris Halsne continues: "[Walser] admits he knew Pepperell had been caught using Mountlake Terrace police computers to find dates. He hired her anyway."

  • Fred Walser refused to say under oath whether he knew who Pepperell was

    The deposition transcript shows that Fred Walser pled the Fifth Amendment, and could not admit a simple, known, public fact -- that he knew Caroline Pepperell -- without fear of incriminating himself.

  • Fred Walser told an officer to submit a fraudulent overtime card, then blamed the officer

    An officer under Walser had a discussion with Sultan's administrator on April 30, 2007, and Walser told him to destroy his original timecard and submit one with three hours of overtime on it for that discussion. Walser claimed two weeks later that he did not tell the officer to do so, and that the officer was being untruthful. (EPD p. 21) About ten days later, Walser admitted he is he did it. (EPD p. 15)

  • Fred Walser wrote a fraudulent accident report to protect a friend's son

    This incident goes back over a decade, to 1993, when Fred Walser was an officer with the Washington State Patrol. We do not yet have the documentation, but there are a few news stories online regarding the event.

    Pat Slack, Jr., the son of Walser's friend, Pat Slack, was in an accident. The official report by the Snohomish Police Department showed that Slack, Jr. was at fault. Walser, as a favor to Slack, filed his own analysis of the accident, saying Slack, Jr. could not possibly have been at fault.

    When later contradicted by experts, Walser constructed yet another theory to explain away Slack, Jr.'s culpability. The experts testified that theory was incorrect, too.

    Walser cost the city and State Patrol thousands of dollars, and he explained it by saying, "I did what I thought was right."

  • Fred Walser has cost the citizens tens of thousands of dollars for his misdeeds, and attempted to cost them millions more

    The WSP investigation of Pepperell alone cost the city about $40,000. Other investigations and losses cost thousands more. The city will presumably recoup $20,000 due to Walser's court-ordered restitution, but it won't cover all their losses. And on top of it all, in the wake of Walser's resignation as a result of his own misdeeds, Walser filed a $10 million claim against the City of Sultan in October 2007, claiming Walser was forced out due to ulterior motives, and that he resigned under "unlawful coercion." (He dropped the claim when he pled guilty.)

Draw your own conclusions from the facts. Our conclusion is that Fred Walser displays a clear pattern of serial dishonesty, that he habitually puts himself and his friends above the rights of the citizens, that he is unconcerned significantly with either ethics or the law, and that if elected, he will cost us all in both our liberty and our pocketbooks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fred Walser Makes Things Up Yet Again

In a Fred Walser mail piece I received today, under the header, "Sometimes, our elected officials do confusing things...," Fred Walser claims that incumbent Senator "Val Stevens told local residents they didn't have to cooperate with police. She said, they should hold up a card that reads, 'you don't have authority over me.'"

As usual -- Fred Walser was convicted in June of lying to public officials, and sentenced to a year in jail for it -- Fred Walser is lying. His language clearly implies that Stevens is talking about all residents and all police, but Stevens was specifically and clearly talking about tribal police having no authority over non-tribal residents. Lies by omission and implication are still lies.

And what she said was based on an opinion from the state Attorney General's office, which had just concluded that tribal police officers "generally lack authority to issue citations to non-Indians for traffic activity on public roadways and highways" on reservations.

Apart from the fact that Fred Walser is lying, Walser also is apparently implying that he believes that tribal police SHOULD have authority over non-tribal residents, which isn't necessarily the best position to take in the 39th District.

Fred Walser continues to have a serious problem simply telling the truth, like when he filed a false sexual harassment report, manufactured a fake log in a coverup, told an officer to fake an overtime log, and so on. On Tuesday I went to a forum held by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, in which Fred Walser took credit for things he never did, including getting money for U.S. 2 safety during the last legislative session.

Fred Walser even had the gall to say he wants to work on "accountability" and "openness and transparency" in government, despite -- as a public official himself -- lying to the public for over a year.

Fred Walser has not given the people a single reason to trust him in the face of his many violations of the public trust, and blatantly lying about his opponent in a mail piece isn't going to help him gain a single voter's trust.

[Reminder] $20,000 Restitution Due @ 2008-10-23 1:30pm

Fred Walser, this is a reminder for

$20,000 Restitution Due

2008-10-23 1:30pm
(Timezone: Pacific Time)
Sultan, WA, US (map)
Calendar: Criminal Sentence Obligations

Only 10 weeks left! If you don't pay your restitution on time, your one-year suspended jail sentence could go into effect (which would make it hard to finish the Senate campaign). Don't be late!

(And while you're at it, don't forget about your 240 hours -- 30 eight-hour days -- of community service.)

Less than 300 days left of probation, hang in there!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who is Endorsing Fred Walser?

Does it send a good signal to teachers, students, and parents that the Washington Education Association is endorsing someone who is under a one-year jail sentence for lying to investigators?

As you should know by now, Fred Walser filed to run as a Democrat State Senator in my legislative district, the 39th, and three days later he pled guilty to providing false information and was sentenced to a year in jail.

I ask in my song Best Week Ever, what makes him think that people will trust him or vote for him after his breaches of the public trust? But another related interesting question is: who would endorse Fred Walser at this point?

The sad answer is that several prominent groups and individuals do, including the aforementioned WEA. I hope parents and teachers demand answers for that one.

There's the Democratic Party, of course. They've even given him $10,000. But it gets more interesting: we unfortunately expect the Democrats to continue to support a criminal, just because he has a D next to his name.

More troubling is John Lovick, former Senator (D-44), and Sheriff of Snohomish County. Walser actually tried (and failed) to get Lovick's predecessor, Rick Bart, to violate the law (by trying to convince him to reject a legitimate public records request), and Lovick is endorsing him for public office? So much for respecting law and order. Our law enforcement should be held to the highest ethical standard, so what do we have to say for law enforcement officials who endorse other law enforcement officials who lie to investigators? And we can say the same thing for Sheriffs Richard Grimstead of Skagit, and Steve Boyer of Kitsap.

That his wife, Monroe Mayor Donetta Walser, is endorsing him is no surprise, but how about Dave Somers, a Democrat on the Snohomish County Councilman? What message is he sending to his constituents in Sultan and Monroe? What about Mayor Don Gough of Lynnwood, Mayor Ray Stephenson of Everett, Mayor Mike Anderson of Sedro-Wooley, and State Representatives Dave Quall (D-40), Mark Ericks (D-1), and Senators Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1) and Steve Hobbes (D-44)?

Are the Monroe Firefighters 3315 supporting him only because Walser's wife is their mayor, or do they actually support what Walser has done? What about the Washington State Labor Council and other unions, like the Teamsters? With the history of criminal activity unions like the Teamsters have in their past, it can't be a good thing for them to support a criminal now.

The question simply has to be asked: do these people and organizations support Walser's criminal activities? If not, what justification do they have for supporting him for Senator while he is under a jail sentence? Some of them endorsed him after his conviction, of course, but they can revoke their endorsements. Apparently they haven't done so in the two months since his guilty plea, so we must assume the endorsements still stand.