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Anti-Buck ad funded by environmentalists, two unions

By Steven Friederich - The Daily World Writer

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:00 AM PDT

Washington State - A radio ad that links state Rep. Jim Buck with “big oil” and boosts his Democratic opponent, Kevin Van De Wege, purports to be sponsored by a Westport-based organization, but its only link to the city appears to be a Post Office box and a volunteer who checks the mail.

A rematch from 2004, the 24th District House race is one of the state’s hottest.

The $14,500 radio campaign is an independent expenditure. It wasn’t placed by Van De Wege, a firefighter from Sequim. Even so, Van De Wege told The Daily World he supports the content of the ad.

Campaign finance forms filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission show that “Jobs for Grays Harbor Westport, WA” is funded by environmental and union groups, including the union that represents Grays Harbor PUD’s linemen.

The Washington Conservation Voters has donated $10,000 to the group, while the Seattle-based Service Employees International Union has donated $2,500. Local 77 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has donated $2,000, as of the most recent filings on Monday.

The campaign manager listed for the group is Brendon Cechovic who says he is also a community organizer for the Washington Conservation Voters, a Seattle environmental organization.

“We’re just using Westport as our campaign address,” Cechovic said this morning. “We have a volunteer out there who’s checking the mail … (The Washington Conservation Voters) really do have a large statewide interest, including a lot of people on the peninsula. We think this biodiesel mandate is underplayed and we want to make sure people understand what exactly Rep. Buck did and that biodiesel really is the future of the state and is important to Aberdeen and Hoquiam.”

Buck, a Republican from Joyce, contends that the ad misrepresents the vote he took on legislation mandating the use of biodiesel. He said he voted against the biodiesel mandate because that’s what his constituents wanted him to do. He said they had concerns about the use of biodiesel in their vehicles and Buck said not all of his questions were answered about any potential damage biodiesel could cause during the wintertime. Buck adds that at the time of the vote there was no talk of constructing the Imperium Biodiesel refinery in Hoquiam and he now feels comfortable with the use of biodiesel. The refinery is currently awaiting permits and its owners hope to have it in operation next year.

“Around election time a little silence is good — a break from all those promises,” a man in the ad says, then heaves a giant sigh. “How do you tell the good from the bad? Get in the car and check out that big green energy plant going into the old Shaw Boats Warehouse at the Port. … Jim Buck fought the legislation that made it possible. Why? Because he’s really tight with big oil and they’d rather have us buy foreign oil than make cleaner fuel right here at home. There’s a Web site about this and a guy named Kevin Van De Wege that some say can do a better job.”

The Web site — jobsforgraysharbor.com — contends that Buck sided with his “Big Oil friends in Olympia” to block the mandate, but Buck said he only ever met with the lobbyists briefly and didn’t have any in-depth conversations with them. Instead, he said, he talked to many of his constituents about their fears concerning the biodiesel mandate, which was eventually approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gregoire.

Van De Wege said he supports the content of the ad even though he doesn’t have anything to do with it.

“I kind of hope for some more ads like this one, but I haven’t seen many,” Van De Wege said Tuesday.

The ad is airing on Jodesha Broadcasting and Grays Harbor Radio stations.

Meantime, the Washington State Dental Association indicated in filings made public this morning that it would spend $6,640 in some kind of advertisement to support Rep. Buck. And the mainly SEIU-backed Affordable Healthcare Coalition has already spent more than $4,400 in efforts to support Van De Wege. Both organizations are spending money independent of the candidate campaigns, which have each raised more than $140,000.


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