State Republican Chairman Draws Ethical Line in the Sand

Where Democrats are concerned, possible ethics violations are serious enough to draw attention to, but Kirby Wilbur appears more forgiving of possible missteps by Republican candidates.

Kirby Wilbur, the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, called a news conference Tuesday to discuss what he says is systemic corruption in government caused by largely one-party rule in state offices over the past 30 years. He also unveiled a new Washington GOP ad campaign highlighting unethical behavior by state Democrats, leaving few state-level candidates unscathed.

He took a more moderate view, however, of the race for the open 5th District Senate seat being vied for by Republican Brad Toft, of Snoqualmie, and Democrat Mark Mullet, of Issaquah.

When asked if ethical questions raised about members of his own party, such as those posed about Toft in recent months, were an issue, Wilbur said those matters were largely in the past. But he said he urges transparency from both parties, saying it is better to "clear the air."

After filing for office, Toft sought to seal records of past legal action against him, The Associated Press reported in July. In a message to the court, Toft said he had come across the case while searching for his name, and that he had not before had contact with the plaintiff, but shared a name with the defendant. He sought similar action in several other trials, all dating back to the late 1990s, the AP reported.

After Tuesday morning's press conference, Wilbur told Patch he believes Toft's recent history and community activism outweigh past legal issues, though Wilbur said he's only met Toft himself a couple of times.

"We all can change, reform and repent," Wilbur said, and it's current behavior and the candidate's position on the issues that voters should consider. (Brad Toft regularly posts political issue-based Local Voices blogs on Sammamish-Issaquah Patch.)

"The voter has to decide, are these allegations about Toft enough to disqualify him," Wilbur said, noting that the legal actions against Toft are far in the past. He said it comes down to a choice between an "ethical person who disagrees with me or an unethical person who agrees with me on all the issues."

"If he’s a corrupt guy, in four years you can vote him out," Wilbur said.

What do you think is more important when evaluating a candidate: how you feel about his or her personal character, or whether you agree with the candidate on most issues? Tell us in the comments.

Jason Decker October 10, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I am a conservative who believes in such noble ideas as character and integrity. I also believe in indicators such as smear campaigns as a diatraction for not having any actual substance or tact for that matter. Mark Mullet has my vote, and I am about as conservative as it gets. I know with mark, there will be no surpises and that I can trust him to work hard representing us.
G.Teller October 10, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The agonizing shrieks of every Republican in Washington State can be heard, loud and clear. I'm wondering if Wilbur is secretly a Democrat, trying to implode the Republican party by shoving through unelectable criminals with a CURRENT pattern of unethical behavior, like Toft, through the system. Other Republicans and Democrats alike, value integrity and character above all else and are smarter than the average Wilbur and Toft. If there was ever a time to vote Democrat, the time is now.
Terry J. LaBrue October 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Sadly, even the most experienced political pol can get lost in translation. It appears that Kirby Wilbur engaged his mouth before his brain. Today, we're living in an era where everything you say is minced and divided. All of us need to be more careful before committing to loose talk. In a clarification, Wilbur said he was talking about all elected officials who need to be transparent and underscored his support of Brad Toft for the Senate.
Jeanne Gustafson October 11, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Thanks for your comment, Terry. It is true Wilbur expressed his support of Brad and called for all candidates to be transparent, as in provide any records that could shed light on allegations made in various press reporting. I do stand by my reporting as accurate.
Bob McCoy October 12, 2012 at 04:58 AM
The number two Republican in the State House has worked tirelessly since being elected to overturn the 63% vote of the people to outlaw bear baiting and hound hunting. Interestingly enough, he is a hound-hunter, and always seems to have problems with cougars (mountain lions) whenever he needs to stir up his electorate. A tireless critic of westsiders, he comes from Mercer Island, moved to northeastern Washington, and seems to believe that people from the westside are uninformed on real environmental and wildlife issues (he is an example of that, I have to admit). His frequent expression is that "they (westsiders) have no skin in the game." Somehow, he must think the $2+ his district receives in taxes for each $1 paid is a gift from heaven, and not from the hard-working taxpayers of King county who receive $0.56 for each $1 they paid in taxes. (How do I know these juicy tax facts? http://www.ofm.wa.gov/databook/ under Local Government section.)


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