GEORGE WILL: Obstructing the right to recall – The Washington Post
By George F. Will, Wednesday, September 21, 4:51 PM
The pleasant sound you hear — the clatter of bad laws crumbling — is the edifice of campaign finance restrictions disintegrating. Washington state provides a fresh example of the exhaustion of the “campaign finance reform” project, which tries to empower government to restrict speech about the composition and conduct of government.
The state law at issue is awful, but usefully awful: It perfectly illustrates how the political class crafts campaign regulations for the purpose of protecting the job security of members of that class — elected incumbents.
Pierce County, near Seattle, has an assessor-treasurer, Dale Washam, whose comportment in office has offended Robin Farris and others. The details about what Washam has done to stir a recall clamor need not concern us; courts consider whether the details are sufficiently grave before allowing a recall election to proceed. For the record, the Tacoma News Tribune says Washam’s two-year tenure “has turned a minor government office into a fountain of perpetual controversy. . . . Investigations state that Washam retaliated against his employees, wasted government resources, abused his power and hindered the inquiries. Costs of those investigations and other legal matters tied to Washam’s office now exceed $108,000. The four damage claims — preludes to lawsuits — seek a collective total of $4.25 million.”