Benton asks Probst for apology over campaign mailer

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, sent out a press release on Wednesday stating that his opponent, Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, is “either ignorant, a liar or both” because of information provided in one of Probst’s mailers.

That mailer in question said: “After only eight months as Chair of the Republican Party, Benton’s own party forced him to resign due to fiscal mismanagement.”

Benton’s press release says the phrase “fiscal mismanagement” is a “blatantly false accusation.” The press release, which includes testimonials from current and former GOP leadership, also states that Benton was never forced to resign.

Benton asked Probst to apologize for the mailer and pointed out that Probst has signed a clean campaign pledge. Benton signed it, too.

Was Benton forced to resign? No. Benton was asked by some party members to resign, but he refused to, according to a Dec. 8, 2000, article in the Seattle Times. He was not selected for another term as party chairman during the next GOP leadership election.

Was Benton asked to resign because of fiscal mismanagement? You can be the judge on that one. This online dictionary defines mismanagement as: “Managing ineffectively, incompetently, carelessly, or wrongly. Mismanagement ranges from making poor decisions to breaking rules for personal gain.”

And here are the first few paragraphs of that 2000 Seattle Times article:

“Washington State Republican Chairman Don Benton, under fire for his handling of party finances and recent purchase of an office building, rebuffed a call for his resignation by party leaders last night.

“But members of the state Republican Party’s executive board, who held a special meeting to address concerns about party leadership, were adamant that Benton has gone too far and misused party funds.

“Since he declined to leave immediately, they swiftly moved to rein in his power.

“The board voted overwhelmingly to restrict Benton’s ability to sign checks on behalf of the state GOP and it appointed a subcommittee to negotiate a new lease to keep party headquarters in Tukwila.” (Continue reading here)

On Thursday morning, the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee released this report. The SDCC argues that Benton was indeed involved in fiscal mismanagement as GOP chairman.

“If (Benton is) parsing words about ‘demanded his resignation,’ versus ‘forced to resign,’ that’s just ridiculous,” Michael King, Executive Director of the SDCC said in an email sent out by Probst. “It is well-documented that his own party demanded his resignation for mismanaging funds. Benton refused to resign, and they stripped his check signing authority and officially voted him out less than two months later.”

This blog post has been updated to include information from the SDCC and Probst.

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