Mayor Denies Hiring Of Political Contributor Was Cronyism

Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson
Mayor Jennifer Gregerson

Recently elected Mukilteo, Washington Mayor Jennifer Gregerson hired a friend and fellow politician to the position of Policy Analyst position created after her election. Of the fifteen applicants who submitted interest in the position the mayor hired the person who provided a significant campaign contribution.

State Senator Marco Lias, who represents the21st district in which Mukilteo is situated is now a Policy Analyst.

His efforts provided $5,000 to the mayor’s election.

The Washington Public Disclosure Commission, the agency that oversees and publishes campaign contributions, indicated the following:

The PDC filings show that in October 2012, Marko Liias’ political fund donated $11,000 to the 21st Democrats, which is chaired by Jennifer Gregerson.

Two days later, the 21st Democrats gave $10,000 to the “One Washington Pac” which is directed by Marko Liias.

Then, a year later, the Pac spent more than $5000 on a direct mail flyer that helped Gregerson win the mayor’s race.

After the mayor was elected, the Policy Analyst position was requested by the mayor of the city council. The council created the position and State Senator Liias was awarded the job by the mayor.

Washington Senator Marco Liias
Washington Senator Marco Liias

Moreover State Senator Liias will be away from his duties as Policy Analyst while the state senate is in session. This requires months of absence from his position. Mayor Gregerson in an interview with King5 News stated: “We’ll be able to save money in our department by having months when he’s unpaid, and because he’s really qualified.”

The position was to be a full time position. So were the other job candidates allowed to take months off per year?

One has to wonder what constitutes “really qualified” over the other applicants who submitted resumes. According to Vote WA, Sentor Liias’ qualifications are as follows:

Education: (times and places of schools, colleges, major, degrees, activities, sports)
Attending, Public Administration, University of Washington
BSFS, International Politics,Graduated, Georgetown University, 2003.

Profession: (profession and work experience outside politics)
Rep. Liias has worked as a freelance journalist, researcher, and most recently as a small business owner. For five years, Rep. Liias helped lead a small family business specializing in green residential construction. It was his involvement in the local chamber of commerce that led Rep. Liias to consider public service.

Civic: (past and present organizations, charities involvement)

Member, American Society for Public Administration, 2003-present
Member, Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish County, 2003-present
Member, Built Green of King and Snohomish County, 2004-2008
Member, Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce, 2004-2008
Board Chair, Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Association, 2005.
Political: (dates and titles of previously held political offices)
In 2005, Rep. Liias was elected to the Mukilteo City Council, where he served for two years. He sponsored the city’s first biofuels ordinance, to promote the use of biofuels at local service stations. Rep. Liias also helped position the City of Mukilteo as the lead opponent of commercial air service at Paine Field.

In January 2008, Rep. Liias was appointed to the House of Representatives. In his first session, Rep. Liias sponsored new laws to promote affordable housing, improve consumer protection resources, and provide better training to school personnel.

After his election to a full term in November 2008, Rep. Liias was selected as Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Agriculture & Natural Resources, Community & Economic Development & Trade, Education, and Rules Committees. Rep. Liias also represents the House of Representatives as a member of the Trade and Transportation Committee of the Council of State Governments – West

The information on other applicants is not readily available for this article nor the job description for the position.

According to King5 News, concerned city council members say Liaas shouldn’t be collecting two government paychecks, both funded by taxpayers.

“Our major concern is I don’t believe he can do both jobs at the same time,” said Council President Randy Lord. “There’s a perception that people believe that there’s payback.”

Councilmember Steve Schmalz, who lost his own bid for mayor in the primary, says a citizen asked him to look into campaign finance documents filed with the state public disclosure commission–and what he saw looks fishy.

“It looks like there’s a political debt that was paid back, that the mayor owed, this is like a political payback,” said Schmalz. “One could look at it that way if you follow the money.”

Mayor Gregerson offered a rebuttal: “I don’t think that there’s a conflict, I think he’s able to do the work for our city and represent us.”

Mayor Gregerson’s critics would say this looks like a conflict of interest and it just looks like it was rigged, “help me get elected and I give you a job.”

“That’s certainly not what happened and not what the process has been about,” Gregerson said.

When asked if this was rigged and if he promised the job, State Senator Liias said “No. The job didn’t even exist until Feb or March. I don’t remember when the job description was approved sometime this year. So certainly, I can’t be promised a job that doesn’t exist.”

The senator does not seem to recognize, at least as evidenced by his statement, that the position was created after the politician he provided money to was elected, and that he was the one who received the position.

Since the council can’t fire Liias and the mayor vows to keep him, it looks a stalemate.

The an old political practice seems to be true in Mukilteo. Campaign positions are financed, financiers receive jobs. But according to the mayor, he was really qualified.

By Darren Smith


King5 News
City of Mukilteo
Washington Legislature Website

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

46 thoughts on “Mayor Denies Hiring Of Political Contributor Was Cronyism”

  1. What makes Eric Holder so qualified? The Marc Rich pardon? Tapping reporters phones? Authorizing the assassination of US citizens? O wait, he’s black. Never mind. Highly qualified, my bad.

    1. “The Marc Rich pardon? Tapping reporters phones? Authorizing the assassination of US citizens? ”

      Ummm, he has mostly kept it out of the head lines. That is pretty competent.

      Who would’a thought.

    1. So now you are telling us that failing the bar is a formative experience that leads on to greatness?

      1. bfm – I am saying that if she is supposed to be the smartest woman in the room, why couldn’t she pass the D.C. bar exam?

        1. She probably didn’t think she had to take the review course – big mistake made by some who think they are really smart. Or maybe for some reason she needed to be licensed in DC long after she was admitted somewhere else – and thought as a practicing attorney she knew enough.

          And that raises the question why someone in her position would want to practice in DC.

          I thought most people, even those in the DC area, want to be able to practice in their state, in the federal courts, and admitted for the supreme court bar for status – not that they will ever get to try a case there.

          And isn’t there some little trick so that if you pass in certain states, your admission is recognized and you are waved into the bar in a ton of other states.

          I must be missing something about the DC bar. I will bet somebody reading this knows the real deal about the DC bar.

          1. bfm – I am working on pure brain cells here, but didn’t she work for some committee in DC? And then wouldn’t her next step be to join the DC bar? I do not care enough about her backstory to check it out. Just going on her alleged background.

            Some states do have reciprocal agreements with other states or exams. Arizona recognizes one bar exam given in other states.

            1. Wiki states she worked as ‘congressional legal counsel’. I don’t see why that would require admission to the DC bar – unless that particular committee wanted its aids to be admitted.

              I am sure the DC bar exam was very different in the 1970’s. But here are a couple of paragraphs that currently relate to DC bar exam. They specifically acknowledge that many choose to be admitted in their state and then be waived into DC rather than take the DC bar exam.

              “Can applicants already admitted in another state gain admission without taking the bar exam?:

              Yes. An attorney with a J.D. from an ABA-approved law school may be admitted without taking the D.C. exam if he or she was admitted in another jurisdiction by examination and attained a 133 scaled MBE score and a 75 scaled MPRE score. There is no years of practice requirement. Alternately, an attorney who has been a member in good standing of the bar for 5 years may be admitted without taking the D.C. exam.

              Because D.C. grants immediate reciprocity to anyone who passes another jurisdiction’s exam (if that exam includes the MBE and the applicant attains at least a 133 scaled score), most law school graduates prefer to take another jurisdiction’s exam and then apply for D.C. membership based on the result of that exam.”

                1. MBE is multi state bar exam given in every state except Louisianan. MPRE is multi state professional responsibility exam.

                  Basically, if you score high enough on the bar exam in your state, DC will waive you in to the bar so you can practice in DC with out any additional requirements.

                  It was probably more complicated in the 1970’s. But still I wonder why Hillary would have felt compelled to take the DC bar exam?

    2. Seriously, I think there is a pretty good rule of thumb about the bar exam – people that take bar exam review courses usually do pretty well, people who do not have much more trouble – and that is true regardless of the law school attended.

      Maybe you have some real stats about the success of candidates who have and have not had bar exam review courses.

      1. bfm – if your rule of thumb is accurate, then Hillary should have taken the DC bar again. I do not know if she took a prep course or not.

  2. I wonder if the other 14 applicants for this position spent $6000 on mayor Gregerson ‘s campaign if they could have gotten an $ 83,505.12 job at the City of Mukilteo?

  3. theartworkshop7

    Do you have links for a before and after on Liias’ resumes?

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