Jaime Herrera, big spender?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, apparently desperate to counter Republican ads warning that Democratic congressional candidate Denny Heck wants to bankrupt the nation with out-of-control spending, finally managed to dig up some dirt on Heck’s Republican opponent, state Rep. Jaime Herrera.

Turns out Herrera spent state money on — wait for it — business cards, formal note cards and $351 worth of glass tops for furniture she bought herself after it was damaged by a capital construction project.

The ad, with voiceover of an image of a shattered pink piggybank, claims Herrera “used taxpayer dollars like it’s her own piggybank.” Not only did she squander those dollars on such frivolous purchases, the DCCC said; “Worse, Herrera took over $22,000 in per diem payments on top her salary.”

The Herrera campaign wasted no time capitalizing on the opening to attack Heck’s own spending record during the five terms he served in the Legislature in the 1970s and 1980s.

“If Heck’s friends really want to compare Herrera and Heck on defending the taxpayer, we’re happy to oblige,” campaign spokesman Casey Bowman said.

In contrast to Herrera, who ranked dead last on the 2010 Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s “Big Spender” list, Heck and the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed an $8.7 billion tax bill in 1983, at the time the highest in the state’s history, on a party-line vote, Bowman said, citing a story from the Seattle Times.

The measure increased annual taxes by $178 for “every man, woman and child in Washington,” according to the Associated Press,and more than quadrupled taxes on manufacturers and wholesalers.

That vote followed Heck’s support in 1982 for a broad $272.7 million tax package that included increased taxes on food, cars, alochol and cigarettes.

“I sure hope this is only the first ad by Denny Heck and his friends that opens up the Olympia spending conversation,” Bowman said. “We’ll line up Jaime’s office expense reports next to Denny’s support of billions in tax increases and let voters decide which candidate Southwest Washington needs to turn our economy around.”

Heck to the DCCC: Thanks a lot, guys.

Kathie Durbin

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