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Mailers sent to Spokane voters falsely encouraging write-in votes

SPOKANE, Wash. - Democratic voters who received a mailer last week may think that the Democratic party wants them to write in Joe Pakootas for the State Senate 6th Legislative District, but the mailers are a misleading campaign financed by a conservative political action committee.

Last week, voters received mailers that asked them to not vote for the Democratic candidate Jessa Lewis and instead write in Joe Pakootas. Pakootas previously ran against Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Several similar mailers were sent out to voters in other districts around the state.

Lewis is running against Republican Jeff Holy for the open state senate seat. Holy currently serves in the Washington House Of Representatives. 

The mailers are from a group called Conscience Of The Progressives. The mailers also included quotes and logos from several progressive organizations across Washington State. It also included a quote from Fuse Washington, which releases the Progressive Voters Guide. But, the quote was from 2016, the last time Pakootas took on Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. 

Conscience Of The Progressives is actually a group run by Republican Glen Morgan out of Olympia. Finance disclosure forms show that the group is funded by the political action committee Send A Message. Send A Message PAC is also operated by Morgan.

Finance disclosure forms show most of the funding for the Send A Message PAC comes from aerospace business owner Peter Zieve. According to the Seattle Times, Zieve donated $1 million to the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016. Zieve also made a political run of his own, vying for a seat on Mukilteo's city council last year. 

KXLY spoke to Morgan on the phone about his reasoning behind the mailers. He said he wanted to show voters that they have "more options" than what is on the ballot. He denied that it was to unfairly sway the vote in favor of Republican candidates. 

"That is an absolutely creative answer, which covers, I think, malintent. It is disgusting and despicable and it shows why so many people disengage from the political process," said Jessa Lewis. 

Lewis says when she saw the mailers, she had to laugh about the situation. She does fear that it will trick som voters, but also believes it shows desperation within the Republican Party. 

"For them to go to such lengths, shows our race is truly in play and they're concerned about winning," she said. 

Fuse Washington and other groups whose logos appears on the mailers have now filed a complaint against Morgan with the Public Disclosure Committee.

In a statement, Sue Wilmot, the executive board member of UFCW 21, said she is outraged about the mailers. UFCW 21's logo was used in those mailers. 

"We are calling on the Public Disclosure Commission to punish the perpetrators and send a clear message that these tactics are illegal," Wilmot said. 

Morgan said he is not afraid of a lawsuit, because he says fair use laws will fall in his favor. 

Lewis says she is sure that the mailers were created to take votes away from her this election. But, she says she thinks this will actually be a help on Nov. 6.

" think ultimately the mailer was a help. It motivated our base, it got our name out and we've had so many more donations and volunteers roll in as a result, so I just want to thank the gentleman for his assist in that," she said. 

KXLY reached out to Jeff Holy for comment, but has not heard back. 

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