Fagan slams Inslee in demeaning email

Councilman, Eyman signed letter for fundraiser

Mike Fagan

February 22, 2013 - Updated: 1 p.m.

Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, in a fundraising letter for his anti-tax efforts, called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.”

The letter, which was signed by Fagan and the two other co-directors of Voters Want More Choices, was part of a mass email soliciting money for the group. Voters Want More Choices advocates for lower taxes through statewide voter initiatives.

Tim Eyman, another co-director who signed the letter, confirmed its authenticity Thursday. The third co-director who signed it was Jack Fagan, Mike’s father.

“Candidate Inslee repeatedly promised to veto any tax increase,” the letter said. “He said no way to higher transportation taxes in 2013. Inslee said he’d grow jobs to generate more tax revenue. What a lying whore he turned out to be.”

Asked in a phone interview Thursday why the group applied that label to the governor, Eyman said: “For the same reason that the little boy said the emperor has no clothes, because it’s true.”

He declined to answer further questions and hung up.

Fagan did not return calls seeking comment.

Bill Kabasenche, a Washington State University assistant philosophy professor who studies ethics, said the comments could make it difficult to work with Inslee and other state officials on issues affecting the city because they don’t foster good communication, which is important between politicians.

“I think it’s unethical in any case for one person to call another person ‘a lying whore,’ ” he said.

Asked about the letter after an unrelated news conference Thursday morning, Spokane Mayor David Condon said he wanted to talk to Fagan before offering a comment. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said late Thursday afternoon that Condon did not have a comment about the letter.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said the letter “seems to cross the line.”

“To call another elected official a lying whore is not appropriate,” Stuckart said. “It doesn’t elevate our discussion of issues at all.”

Inslee said in recent weeks that he sticks by his campaign promise of not supporting new taxes to fix the state’s projected budget shortfall but that he supports extending some taxes that are set to expire this year because he doesn’t consider them new.

He has suggested he would support a tax increase for roads and bridges, but he hasn’t backed a specific plan. That position does not contradict what he said last year as a candidate.

Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said the governor would not comment on the letter. She said Inslee hasn’t changed his tax positions.

“The governor has been consistent in discussing his intent to work with legislators to craft a transportation package,” she said.

Joint statement issued

The Spokane City Council’s three Democratic-leaning members this morning issued a statement condemning the actions of fellow City Councilman Mike Fagan.

On Feb. 21, Fagan co-signed a fundraising newsletter that called Gov. Jay Inslee a “lying whore.” “We believe such degrading name-calling has no place in political discourse,” said council President Ben Stuckart and Councilmen Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref in a joint statement. “It is especially disturbing that one elected official would use such demeaning terms to describe another elected official.”

The statement goes on to say: “Surprisingly, instead of apologizing, Councilmember Fagan defended his actions as appropriate to (the news media). Councilmember Fagan is an elected representative of Spokane and his inappropriate words reflect poorly on our city and our citizens. We strongly condemn his actions. We call on all elected officials in Spokane County to condemn this behavior and bring civility back into our shared political discussion.”

In addition, two of the council’s Republican-leaning members, Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen also say Fagan should apologize.

“I know Mike believes in the intent of his message, but his choice of words were inappropriate and unprofessional, and in my opinion, he should issue an apology,” Allen said.

Salvatori said the letter reflected poorly on the City Council and contradicts how Fagan has acted as a member of City Council.

“I’m hoping that he will apologize not for his position, but his choice of words,” Salvatori said.

Staff writer Jim Camden contributed to this report.

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