The 41 LD precinct caucuses were held at four large pooled caucus sites on Saturday. The Ron Paul campaign had been given verbal assurance by the King County GOP they were allowed to have a table presence staffed by volunteers at each site. Reports from each of those sites follow.
Islander Middle School: There was one table behind the check-in tables. Ron Paul volunteers had brought their own. After they started setting up the table 41LD chair Jackie Dunbar said that they couldn’t have it, but the volunteers informed her that Lori Sotelo told the campaign representative that a campaign table was permitted.
Jackie then walked away but returned to say no material could be placed on the walls, only on the table, pointing out the empty table set up behind the credentials tables, saying the campaign could “share” that table. Ron Paul volunteers immediately removed material from the walls, but declined to switch tables. Jackie then just walked away. Volunteers wondered, since the GOP had rented a portion of the school, how there could be any restrictions on displays on a table in a rented space. There weren’t. Jackie was lying.
Tyee Middle School: The Ron Paul District Coordinator placed nearly 30 Ron Paul signs in the PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY in the weeds along the school boundaries just before 6am on Saturday morning. When the coordinator arrived at 8:15 all of the signs were gone.
Political advertising, removing or defacing.
A person who removes or defaces lawfully placed political advertising including yard signs or billboards without authorization is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable to the same extent as a misdemeanor that is punishable under RCW 9A.20.021. The defacement or removal of each item constitutes a separate violation.
One of the Ron Paul Pooled Caucus leaders arrived shortly thereafter with a table and campaign material, as well as equipment to make coffee for attendees, and went to the room where the Tyee caucus was to be held to ask where to set up, only to be told by Tricia Richards, PCO BEL 41-2936 he could not do so. Tricia wasn’t telling the truth.
The Paul campaign volunteers then began to set up their table on the pavement in front of the school next to the parking lot, and some yards from the doors to the actual caucus location. Trish arrived to tell them they could not have a table anywhere, to assure them that their signs had been removed by another GOP official “because they were on school property” and would introduce them to the man who had removed them so they could retrieve the (stolen) signs.
She admonished the Paul supporters to be “nice to her” because she was trying to be nice to them and help them but that they were not “being nice to her.” They were questioning the authority of the prohibitions she was presenting. (There was no such authority.)
It’s not “nice” to question King County Party Leaders in the course of their officiousness.
By this time a number of other Ron Paul caucus attendees had arrived and were helping out. Requests for the written regulations prohibiting “campaign materials” on school property were rebuffed and Trish said the person running the caucus would come out to speak with them.
Patti Mann, BEL 41-0658 PCO and Area 4 Chair, arrived to explain that no campaign materials were allowed on school property. She stated categorically that the signs were on school property and were removed for that reason. She was lying.
Campaign volunteers, while stating that these prohibitions would be verified with the Bellevue School District, quietly removed the table and established a presence at the small table inside the caucus doors, being forced to ask the Santorum representative to move his materials to make room for an equitable sharing of the table between the Romney, Santorum, and Paul campaigns. Other volunteers worked the overflow crowd of caucus arrivals outdoors, identifying Paul supporters, offering stickers, answering questions.
Tuesday morning, Ingrid Headland of the Bellevue School District, stated that there is no school district policy prohibiting campaign materials being placed on school property when the property is rented for an event so long as the materials are removed at the close of the event.
Odle Middle School: The Ron Paul tabling effort at this pooled caucus proceeded without incident. Volunteers were comfortable out of the chill winds at their station in the school’s hallway.