Seaquist denies berating Jensen during private meeting
March 12, 2009 · Updated 8:39 AM
An alleged altercation between Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) and lobbyist Marlyn Jensen — his opponent in last November’s election — has boiled over to a political version of he said-she said.
Jensen feels that Seaquist’s temper flared to the extent where she feared for her safety, while Seaquist characterized the meeting as an admittedly heated discussion about Jensen’s trivialization of the lobbying process.
Since Seaquist defeated Jensen in November to win a second term in the house, Jensen has been a frequent visitor to Olympia, where she has lobbied for property rights.
As part of this effort, she has left symbolic bags of dirt and rocks with legislators.
Jensen visited Seaquist’s office on March 2, when it was unoccupied, and left these items on a desk with several notes about the property rights movement.
Seaquist found the items later in the day, and said he was confused by their purpose.
“I came back to my office to find these bags of dirt and rocks on my administrative assistant’s desk,” he said. “There were several notes that had something to do with property rights and I think about gay rights. It wasn’t really clear what they were trying to say, since the notes were handwritten and not well organized.”
It was clear, however, that the items were from Jensen.
Seaquist recalls that he thought the lobbying method was frivolous, especially in light of the serious budget issues facing the Legislature this year.
Jensen again visited the office on March 4 without an appointment, accompanied by fellow lobbyist Alice Diambri, although they were interested in different issues.
Both acknowledge that Seaquist was visibly surprised by Jensen’s sudden appearance in Seaquist’s office door, but differ about what happened next.
According to Jensen, Seaquist became immediately agitated and started yelling and shaking his fists.
“I was quite shocked when he began yelling and shaking his fists at me,” she said. “He kept claiming I humiliated him. He was so angry I never could understand what he was talking about. I started backing toward the door so I could escape his verbal attack, and as I left he yelled that I was ‘never to come to his office again.’”
Seaquist denies losing his temper, insisting, “I am a former military commander. If I ever get mad, you will know.”
He said that he was “disappointed” with Jensen and her property rights demonstration.
“I thought that leaving dirt was completely inappropriate,” he said. “We have hundreds of lobbyists here every day, going from door to door, supporting a serious cause. I think people should treat the Legislature with respect, which I didn’t think Marlyn was doing.”
There is also a different interpretation of Seaquist’s treatment of Diambri.
He said that he asked to meet with Jensen alone, and deliberately shut the door so the conversation could be private.
She said that Seaquist “slammed the door in my face and just missed breaking my nose.”
Nevertheless, Seaquist said he had written an apology to Jensen for the “misunderstanding.”
He also said he would welcome Jensen’s return to his office to discuss any issues, while acknowledging the two won’t always agree.
“I thought we got along very well during the campaign,” Jensen said. “I was surprised by his behavior and thought it was the wrong way to treat a constituent.”
“I admire Marlyn’s activism and thought she ran a virtuous campaign,” Seaquist said. “She can come back to my office any time.”