Tina Podlodowski during happier days

Tina Podlodowski is the State Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, and she should be celebrating the resistance and eagerly looking forward to the 2018 mid term elections.  Podlodowski is a former Microsoft manager, who retired as a millionaire in the 1990s, served on the Seattle City Council for a term, and was an adviser to former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in 2014  (Democrat Mayor Murray resigned from the Mayor’s position after his 5th child abuse allegation was made public last year).  However, there is little to celebrate for Podlodowski now as she faces scandals and challenges inside the State Democratic Party.  Many problems have been created by Podlodowski herself.  Blaming Trump may not be enough to carry her into another term as State Chair.

Tina Podlodowski was an advisor to disgraced Democrat Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in 2014

When Podlodowski was first elected as state chair, she rode a wave of anger at Trump and probably a bit of disappointment in the failure of her own campaign for Washington State Secretary of State.  Considered a pretty nasty political fight by political observers, 2016’s race for Secretary of State was rough for Republican incumbent Kim Wyman.  However, Podlodowski’s well-funded political effort floundered and failed in the end.

Podlodowski helps inspire the campaign finance complaint wars

Jaxon Ravens tried to help Podlodowski’s election, but despite his help, Tina pushed him out of the State Chair position

This failure occurred despite the strategic effort by the Washington State Democratic Party and its chair Jaxon Ravens who helpfully filed a Public Disclosure Complaint against Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman during the 2016 political campaign.  Democrat Attorney General Bob Ferguson eagerly used the complaint to bring aggressive litigation against Wyman with maximum political exposure and impact during the campaign (see AG press releases here, here, and here).  Despite this well-planned and heroic effort to remove the only state-wide elected Republican in Washington State, Podlodowski’s efforts fell far short of her goal.

Dwight Pelz, former chair of the State Democratic Party took a stab at Podlodowski’s fitness for state chair, but few listened to him. Many view him as a prophet now.

As payback for Jaxon Ravens’ assistance during the campaign (and further evidence that no good deed goes unpunished), Podlodowski ran another aggressive campaign against Ravens for State Chair in January of 2017.  She claimed to be a Bernie Sanders supporter despite the fact that she was a delegate for Clinton.  She successfully blamed her failure and the Democratic Party’s failures on Jaxon.  She prevailed in this effort.  Former State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz was not happy with Podlodowski’s scorched earth efforts to gain power, and made it clear when he posted on Facebook, January 12, 2017 (as reported in the Seattle Met):

“Tina Podlodowski is not a serious political professional. She is a rich person who moves from position to position, apparently without a need to build a career in order to make a living. Invariably after a relatively short time period she leaves these jobs, often resigning abruptly.
Podlodowski is the antithesis of Bernie Sanders. She is a wealthy moderate Democrat who made a large amount of money is a small amount of time working in corporate America. Podlodowski is a classic liberal living in the Seattle liberal bubble. At a time when Democrats must communicate better with, and fight for working people, she is the wrong choice to be the leader and spokesperson of the State Democratic Party.” – Dwight Pelz, former WA State Democratic Party Chair, 1/12/17

In a close and contested race, Podlodowski prevailed, Jaxon Ravens was given the boot,  and the party faithful rejected Dwight Pelz’s warnings.  In hindsight, many Democrats are wondering if they should have been a bit more careful in their choice for party chair last year.

Bad legal advice, silencing sexual assault victims, crushing political opponents, and the lofty goal of “losing by less”

Here is just a sampling of Tina’s travails over the past year:

In happier times, before he was forced to resign, Chad Lupkes had Podlodowski on his show promoting her campaign
  • Podlodowski bungled a rape allegation and investigation at the State Party’s Quarterly Meeting in Walla Walla last April.  The Spokesman Review covered the story here.  In addition to the rape investigation, widespread underage drinking was uncovered, which included hard alcohol purchased and distributed to minors by at least one Democratic candidate for Congress.  This led to the forced resignation of the King County Democratic Party State Committeeman Chad Lupkes, and it generated substantial problems for the State Party as accusations of a cover-up and an attempt to silence the victim appeared orchestrated from the top.
  • Podlodowski made news in Clallam County in September when she stated that the goals of the Washington State Democratic Party were to “…lose by less.”  She meant this statement in reference to Republican areas of the state, but it was picked up as a classic appeal to the base which was not likely to inspire.  “Lose by Less Tina” became a nickname given by some of her Democratic Party detractors.
  • While Podlodowski based her 2016 campaign hopes in part on the state party’s efforts to smear Secretary of State Kim Wyman with a PDC complaint, once this author started to follow Podlodowski’s fine example and file complaints against a
    Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski tried to make local party legal troubles go away by giving poor legal advice

    few hundred Democratic Party committees and politicians in 2017, she made key strategic blunders like suggesting many of them illegally dissolve after being sued.  This included convincing local party chapters to transfer much of their financial assets to the State Party.  Multiple local legislative districts and one county party took this advice which has only spiraled into deeper legal troubles, including charges of fraudulent conveyance and exposing the State Party as a successor in fact to the fraud.  While these legal woes are still filtering through the court system, it is clear to all that Podlodowski’s suggestions made the situation far worse than it already was.

  • Recently, Podlodowski was facing a state-wide uprising among local Democratic Party leadership.
    Bailey Stober – King County Democratic Party Chair

    Many are discussing a recall petition effort to remove Podlodowski.  Challengers to Podlodowski’s control are appearing, most noticeable is King County Democratic Party Chair Bailey Stober.  It is apparent that Stober is a clear and present political danger to Podlodowski’s power and ambitions. She helped orchestrate an attack on Stober, led by three King County Democratic Central Committee Vice Chairs.  They produced a report (linked here) which was helpfully included in a Seattle Times article by Jim Brunner last Friday.  Interestingly enough, a copy of this same report was mailed to this author that same day.

Happier days – Bailey Stober (left), Tina Podlodowski (center), Jessa Lewis (right) (source: Facebook)

If anyone takes the time to read the “Findings and Recommendations regarding allegations of harassment by Chair Bailey Stober” (linked here), this is thin gruel indeed.  This author has no intention of defending Stober.  In fact, complaints filed by this author with the Public Disclosure Commission were filed against Stober (linked here, and linked here).  This led to the AG opening a deeper investigation into Stober’s historic campaign finance challenges (see AG press release here).  The AG also filed a lawsuit against the King County Democrats (see AG press release here) due to this author’s efforts, so it seems fair to assume that Stober is not a fan of this author.

Tina Podlodowski might like to choke out Eyman, but it is harder to get rid of internal party challengers than she might think

However, while Stober may have had challenges complying with Washington State’s awesome and wonderful campaign finance laws, he is not alone.  Stober is in good company with the rest of the Democratic Party (and many Republicans too).  However, none of these “Founded” complaints referenced in this well- distributed report have anything to do with the PDC, and some of these “Founded” complaints in this report are just silly.  For example:

“Complaint #5 “Staff is continuously scared of not being paid because there is not enough money in the bank” 
When Stober ran for King County Party Chair, he was trying to fix their PDC problems.

The King County Democratic Party has been a financial mess for years.  Their former treasurer grabbed all their financial information, laptop and cash box and made a late night drive to the PDC headquarters in Olympia where he abandoned these items by their front door.  The next morning, PDC employees believed it was a bomb and called in the Olympia Police Department to investigate.  It was partly because of this and this author’s complaint to the AG, which led the Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the King County Democrats last year (linked here).  This case is still being litigated.  Stober actually ran, in part, his campaign for King County Democratic Chair to help clean up the PDC problems, so while staff may indeed be “scared of not being paid,” that seems like strange justification to force a volunteer chair to resign.  What is he supposed to do?  Tell them lies?

It turns out the Voters didn’t support Podlodowski, and if she keeps it up, the Democrats won’t either (source: Facebook)

The rest of the “complaints” were pretty silly as well.  Asking people to go out and have drinks after work?  Calling people mean names – more than once, don’t you know?  Ok, those may indicate poor judgment and behavior, but if that is what it takes to launch a jihad to remove a party leader, then the Democratic Party could be facing a more serious winnowing of leadership than anyone realizes.  However, these behaviors appear to only be problems if you are not on the right side (left side?) of Podlodowski right now.

Everyone should recognize that Podlodowski has a tough job.  Running a state-wide political party is not easy.  Of course, Podlodowski makes it harder when she stumbles into avoidable scandals.  It becomes nearly impossible when you try to fight a civil war to destroy all your political enemies inside the party.  The Republicans should be thankful Tina Podlodowski is in charge running the Washington State Democratic Party, and if the Republicans are serious about regaining political power in Washington State, they might consider taking some advantage of the opportunities repeatedly presented by the trials and tribulations of Tina.



Additional Background articles:

My Northwest – Feb 15, 2018 – “Dem Chairman: ‘This definately smells of dirty politics!'”

My Northwest – Feb 13, 2018 – “Rantz: Turmoil over sexual harassment charges with King County Dems”

Seattle Times – Feb 9, 2018 – “King County Democrats chair rejects calls for his resignation after harassment complaint”

King County Vice Chairs Report attacking King County Democratic Chair Bailey Stober

Seattle Weekly – May 15, 2017 – “Why did a Democratic Staffer leave a bunch of Party financial information at the PDC’s Front Door?”

Peninsula Daily News – September 1, 2017 – “Democratic chair urges party members to work harder” (and lose by less)

Spokesman Review – August 24, 2017 – “Sexual assault allegation investigated after Democratic meeting” 

The Scorched wasteland of Washington State’s campaign finance laws

AG Attorney complains suing Democrat lawbreakers “unfair”, quits to sue Republicans

The Chaos of Campaign Finance Compliance and the Disarray of the Dems

Inlander – April 13, 2017 – “Dems in Disarray”

The Tacoma News Tribune – October 30, 2017 – “Pierce County Democrats to pay $20k for breaking campaign finance law”

The Peninsula Daily News – September 28, 2017 – “Jefferson County commissioner answers complaint about funds transfer to Homes Now”

Seattle Times – August 6, 2017 – “State senator fined for violating campaign disclosure law”

The Olympian – August 4, 2017 – Hunt agrees to fine in campaign finance disclosure case 

SeattleMet – January 14, 2017 – Democrats dislike Democrats – Dwight Pelz attacks Tina Podlodowski and says she is not a good person to run the Washington State Democratic Party

August 18, 2017 – AGO settles Campaign Finance Complaint against Representative Strom Peterson for a settlement of $11,950.  Peterson pays $7, 595 with the rest deferred.Note- this was sent out as a tweet on August 21, 2017 in lieu of a press release

August 15, 2017 – AGO files Campaign Finance Complaint against Pierce County Democrats

July 14, 2017 – AGO files campaign finance complaint against Kittitas County Democrats

June 29, 2017 – AGO files campaign finance complaint against San Juan County Democrats

June 23, 2017 – AG’s Office demands documents be disclosed in campaign finance case

June 19, 2017 – AG files campaign finance complaint against Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee

May 12, 2017 – AGO Files Campaign finance complaint against King County Democratic Central Committee

May 12, 2017 – AGO Files Campaign finance complaint against Spokane County Democratic Central Committee, Two Committee Officers

April 10, 2017 – AGO files Campaign Finance Complaints Against State Lawmakers, Former Candidate

March 14, 2017 – Chopp to pay $6469 over Campaign Finance Allegations

March 14, 2017 – AG files Campaign Finance Complaints against Senator Hunt and Thurston County Democrats


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