Wednesday night, just hours before I announced my campaign for Prosecutor, incumbent Mark Lindquist finally released the remaining nine text messages from 2011 that he’s been fighting to hide from the public. No doubt an upcoming court appearance, in which he faces disclosure and fines, and my announcement, which he was expecting, were factors in his sudden about-face.
While it’s good that the texts have finally been released, posting them on Facebook and trying to spin the issue is ridiculous. He calls the texts “trivial” and “insignificant” and says “no government business was conducted by any of the messages.” That is simply untrue.
For one thing, some of the messages pertain to the decision to hire or not hire somebody for a position in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. That is very clearly “government business” that the public has a right to see (which is what a judge has already ruled).
Directing employees to do his dirty work
These newly released messages are an example of Lindquist relying on employees to do his online dirty work. This is significant in this specific instance because, after having a legal dispute with the “critic” who was targeted in these text messages and in the online comments, Lindquist had promised to stop retaliating against the “critic.” The online comments constitute retaliation.
With the release of the text messages, we know now that Lindquist was directing this retaliatory behavior. Now we know for sure Lindquist has been using our taxpayer money to hide these text messages to try to cover up his own bad behavior.
Mr. Lindquist’s lame attempt to spin this differently also raises some obvious questions.
- If the texts are so “trivial,” why didn’t he release them years ago?
- Why waste so much taxpayer money trying to hide “insignificant” texts from the taxpayers?
He can argue all he wants that this case is about “safety” and constitutional privacy principles. That’s just not true. This case is about Lindquist trying to hide his own bad behavior from the voters and from his “critic.”
Now Pierce County will get stuck with another big penalty for withholding these messages. We have paid over $650,000 in attorney fees to defend Lindquist, and now we’re going to pay the other side’s attorney fees too! Plus, the penalty for withholding public records is huge, up to $100 per day per record; that could be $900 per day for almost 6 years.
I don’t buy his lame excuses. Even though I don’t buy it, we’re going to pay for it.
Pierce County is going to pick up his hefty tab again.