Letter to the Editor: Ethics violations


I want to raise questions about the ethical connection between the illegal contracts issued by the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), and Rep. Norm Dick and his two sons, K&L Gates law firm, and. the Cascade Conservancy.  The State Auditor’s office issued an audit report, nr. 1003598, located at http://www.sao.wa.gov/auditreports/auditreportfiles/ar1003598.pdf, which identifies numerous PSP contract law violations. 

Among the findings is an illegal no-bid contract to K&L Gates law firm for $19,999 presumably to skirt the no bid announcement requirement of $20,000, but which then was modified to over $52,000. 

Numerous ethical violations were made in the justification, award, and modifications, but I want to point out a few items that were NOT in the report, and have not been reported in the press.  K&L Gates helped establish the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), and I believe helped get Rep. Norm Dicks’ son, David Dicks, get appointed by Governor Gregoire as the PSP Executive Director. 

K&L Gates is Rep. Norm Dicks’ 4th largest political contributor in 2008 http://www.opencongress.org/wiki/Norman_Dicks, and often brags to clients about its ability to provide access to politicians.  The PSP contract appears to reward K&L Gates for its support and contributions.  This perception is fueled by the over $400 hourly rate charged, the falsely identified urgency that allowed the PSP to bypass the Attorney General’s office, which could have done the work, and the missed deadlines.  An additional $10,000 PSP ‘gift’ to the Cascade Conservancy appears to reward them for having employed Rep. Norm Dicks’ other son, Ryan Dicks, as a lobbyist. Ryan Dicks then was appointed to a 2 year job, paying $93,000 per year, with Pierce County spending over $4 million of taxpayer money earmarked for some energy efficiency projects 

Is this more quid pro quo?  As a military officer, trained in government contracting, I can tell you that the appearance of a conflict of interest is nothing to be ignored.  And this issue is separate from the PMA scandal which enveloped Rep. Dicks and hit the press a couple months ago.

 In his Appropriations Committee post, Rep. Dicks is keeper of the purse strings for a variety of federal land management agencies -- the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and EPA.  The scenario I described illustrates just how detached from ethics some politicians (of any stripe) become when they experience increasing power over such a long period of time.  Not only should Rep. Dicks be defeated next November, he should feel personally and professionally embarrassed for the conflict of interest he allowed to occur, and should resign for allowing such an egregious breach of ethics.

Randy Dutton
Montesano, WA