What can we learn from yesterday's chaotic deposition of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi about Buildergate, the lawsuit alleging he illegally coordinated with the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) to raise campaign funds?
Attorneys from both sides of the suit clashed over questioning 'ê which was generallyÂ more combative than constructive 'êÂ and in the midst of the attorneys' occasional profanity, calls to not stare "in disdain" at each other or "obstruct" Rossi from answering questions, little was gleaned about the candidate's alleged involvement in BIAW fundraising efforts. Mike Withey, one of the lawyers who brought the suit against the BIAW on behalf of two former state Supreme Court justices, said the deposition was 'êthe most obstructive'ê he had seen in all his years as an attorney. Rossi's lawyers repeatedly called the event "a political stunt."
Earlier this week I wrote newspaper coverage about the deposition so close to election day could "prove to be the coup de grÃ¢ce for Rossi on Nov. 5." I was wrong. Democrats who had hoped the deposition would aid in Gregoire's re-election campaign will be hard-pressed to find any incriminating evidence from Wednesday's event. If anything, the deposition backfired. Rossi now appears to be a victim of Democrats' "political theater," while Gregoire and her supporters appear desperate 'ê the instigators of a last-ditch courtroom Hail Mary pass to swing the polls.
So far, the press hasn't helped Gregoire. Today, The Seattle Times editorial board called the deposition "a farce" 'ê not exactly the brand of negative coverage Democrats had envisioned when King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas granted expedited discovery in the suit. Still, voters could 'ê if they haven't already 'êÂ just throw up their hands and say "to hell with it anyways, both parties have been nasty," and cast ballots without Buildergate weighing on their minds. Gregoire had better hope so. The latest polls show she has a slight lead. Neither candidate can afford slippage during the next five days.
Here's a full text of the deposition.
According to P-I reporter Chris McGann, there's a new twist in the case. Faith Ireland, one of the former state Supreme Court justices who brought the case against the BIAW, donated $50 to King County Judge Paris Kallas' judicial campaign in 2001. Kallas is the judge who ordered Rossi to be deposed before the election. What do you think? Is a 7-year-old, $50 donation a conflict of interest? Maybe.