Opinion

Pseudo-Republicans love McKay

I’m glad I was unable to attend this year’s Mainstream Republicans of Washington convention in Wenatchee or I wouldn’t have been able to keep my seat or my mouth shut when the MRs “clapped enthusiastically” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) for former U.S. Attorney John McKay.

That was when McKay “declared that the enormous power vested in federal prosecutors cannot be associated with partisan politics.” He got further applause when he recited his Republican party credentials but criticized party tactics, such as opposing gay marriage.

That’s the Grand Old Party he means when he mentions gay marriage, not the Mainstream R’s who are the liberal wing of the GOP and do not oppose gay rights or welcoming gays into their ranks.

The MRs are liberal Republicans such as Dan Evans, Sam Reed, Ralph Munro, Sid Morrison, Doug Sutherland, Jim Horne, Norm Maleng – all friends of mine. I also have friends among the regulars, whose one-time leaders, Ellen and Bruce Craswell, live in my area.

Bruce fixes my computer when I foul it up. Ellen lets him do it.

Anyway, to get back to McKay, I was not pleased to read that the Mainstream delegates “warmed” to McKay as a possible future candidate. This is a guy who, among the Gang of Eight U.S. attorneys given their walking papers at the same time by the Justice Department, demanded that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales step down.

Criticized for his failure to pursue criminal charges in the Dino Rossi voter fraud case, he said the evidence just wasn’t there. “If it happened because I made someone political unhappy,” he said, “then I’m proud to have been fired.”

The Democratic Congress, of course, is having a collective cow over the firings because it wants to add the forcing of AG Gonzales from office as another stain on the Bush legacy. McKay was right about the enormous power vested in federal prosecutors. If they want to get you, you’re as good as got.

Ask Gordon Walgren, John Bagnariol and Pat Gallagher. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Gamscam.

John Merkel Jr. had McKay’s job then as U.S. attorney for Western Washington and he made good use of it against Walgren, a lifelong political foe of the Merkel family in Kitsap County where Merkel Sr. had been prosecuting attorney.

The FBI posed as California businessmen in persuading then-Senate Majority Leader Walgren, then-House Speaker Bagnariol and cardroom lobbyist Gallagher to use their political influence to expand gambling.

For nearly two years, the agents secretly taped conversations with the three and while they got Bagnariol and Gallagher agreeing to do it, Walgren was never heard.

He turned down a $5,000 donation from the agents.

After a year, agents reported to Merkel that they had the other two cold but could get nothing on Walgren and asked to drop him from the case. Merkel ordered them to “Get something.”

The agents testified that Walgren agreed to a deal three times but twice their tape malfunctioned and they didn’t tape the third time. The jury believed them.

The three were sent to prison for two years and on release, Walgren pursued FBI files and found papers about the request to drop the case and reports they had reached no agreement with Walgren, proving they lied at the trial.

None of these papers were provided to his defense attorney before the trial as is required by law. Nothing came of it because you can’t sue the FBI or federal prosecutors.

When this was revealed, did either political party decry framing of an innocent man by a prosecutor using the FBI?

Nope. Then, as now, politics is a dirty business.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville, WA

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