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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Political Action Committee Targets Washington Justice With Hard-Hitting Ad

Judicial Integrity WA
An attack ad from a political action committee run by former Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom targets Washington Supreme Court Justice Charlie Wiggins.

A political action committee largely funded by three wealthy Washingtonians has unleashed a hard-hitting attack on a state Supreme Court justice up for re-election. The TV ad suggests Justice Charlie Wiggins is soft on crime.

The ad against Wiggins borrows a page from the 1988 Willie Horton attack ad on presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.

“Charlie Wiggins has a history of letting dangerous people do dangerous things. Rapists, murderers and kidnappers,” the ad says.

It goes on to cite Wiggins’ opinions in two Supreme Court cases where he sided with criminal defendants, including a man convicted of possession of child pornography. That man was recently re-arrested in a sex sting involving a detective posing as an underage teenage girl.

Wiggins called the ad the “classic tactic of ideologues.”

“[They] want to change the direction of a court and so they pick some criminal case where the judge has voted in favor of constitutional rights and to vilify the judge based on that,” he said.

The man behind the ad is former Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom. He runs Judicial Integrity WA, the political action committee that’s funding the attack on Wiggins, and defends the tone and content of the ad.

“Some of these what I would call non-commonsense rulings that you’re seeing come out of the court have consequences, I think, that justice is there to protect society and we need to do a better job of having a more balanced court,” Tom said.

Tom raised $350,000 from three donors to fund this attack on Wiggins. They are southwest Washington billionaire Ken Fisher, Mariners owner John Stanton and Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman’s Kemper Holdings.

The outside money in this race eclipses the combined amount Wiggins and his opponent Federal Way Municipal Judge Dave Larson have raised for their campaigns.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."