July 13, 2006
The Stink of the Cantwell-Wilson Deal Grows

Maria Cantwell is paying Mark Wilson $8,000 a month. David Postman breaks the story; I'm still a bit amazed by that figure.

Anyone who has worked on major campaigns knows that $8,000 a month is a huge slice of payroll, befitting not only a very senior staff position such as campaign manager or political director, but someone with a polished political resume at that, which says their hard work on the campaign will definitely be worth that high level of expense.

In contrast, Mark Wilson will serve as "outreach director," essentially a mid-level staff position, based on the qualification that he's pretty good at talking to people to the left of most Democratic voters. That makes $8,000 a month an obscene salary. Without question, there are more campaign staffers, no doubt getting paid a lot less, conducting outreach for the Cantwell campaign. This is $8,000 a month to essentially run around the state telling disgruntled liberals Maria Cantwell isn't as terrible as they think, or as Mark Wilson used to think until he got on the payroll.

UPDATE: Respectfully Republican, who has some experience digging through Cantwell's FEC reports, says Cantwell's campaign manager is paid $4,100 - $4,300 every couple weeks. Hah! Since Mark Wilson is apparently so important to the campaign, perhaps they'll bring his top supporter, Cindy Sheehan, in soon as well. Does anyone have a small animal we can sacrifice to the campaign gods to help make this happen?

This entire affair with Dal LaMagna coming on board as co-chair, and Wilson getting hired, is the equivalent of Dino Rossi having to hire Reed Davis while signing Ellen Craswell on as campaign co-chair. It takes little imagination to picture how furiously local editorial pages would condemn such a move as the selling of the candidate's soul to the far right.

This episode smells of everything most people don't like about politics. Secretive deals, rebuked even by the PI's editorial page, where money is the ultimate problem solver, and transparency is only shown when someone starts feeling the heat. How classy. But I see I'm not the only one who thinks that.

In comparison, give Cantwell's remaining challenger Hong Tran credit for having the courage to speak her mind and resist, uh, financial incentives thrown her way as well.

So let's see, people will have a choice in November between a candidate who goes out and listens to all comers, and one who throws money around to keep people quiet. Tough call.

UPDATE: Check out the ProgressiveGovernment.org site founded by Dal LaMagna as noted in the Cantwell release about him. Scroll down to see "Progressive Cabinet" nominations: Noam Chomsky for Dept. of Defense, Rep. Cynthia McKinney for Homeland Security, Rep. Dennis Kucinich for Dept. of Peace...the list goes on. Please Senator Cantwell, incorporate these ideas into your campaign, and tell the voters all about it!

Posted by Eric Earling at July 13, 2006 07:34 PM | Email This
1. So let me get this straight, Eric:

An $8,000 monthly salary is fishy, but...

A $28 MILLION DOLLAR golden parachute from a major corporate interest http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/274354_mcgavick17.html
is entirely kosher?

Please explain....

Posted by: bartelby on July 13, 2006 07:41 PM
2. Bartelby..... I think because he WORKED for Safeco for 5 years.....

Wilson is a new hire, totally differenct....

Posted by: Chris on July 13, 2006 07:49 PM
3. Salary EARNED vs Competition Eliminating Payola

Posted by: Cheryl on July 13, 2006 08:05 PM
4. Let's see--in 11 months he turned a company that had lost a billion dollars the year before and turned them into a $300m profit maker. I think a $1.3b turnaround is worth $28m, especially for the 10,000 jobs that he saved with his actions.

As a shareholder, I don't have a problem with it.

Posted by: Marc on July 13, 2006 08:26 PM
5. So how come the DEM's feel everyone should have a LIVING WAGE... I bet the others working for her, don't make this type of cash...

So they suffer, while he makes the big bucks.
Come on Dem's explain this pay would you!

What about the Children!!!!

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on July 13, 2006 08:29 PM
6. Bartelby - Chris & Cheryl have hit the themes here, but even the article you cite notes this was in the form of earned stock grants and options. I used to work in the biotech sector, where stock options are a major source of compensation, and can attest it's not uncommon to excercise one's options, or vest stock grants, just prior to leaving a company. That's just how the market-place for well-payed executives works.

In addition he received compensation for agreeing not to work for a competitor for three years. Why pay him well and encourage him not to work for a competitor for three years? Becuase he was a darn good CEO, turning around a flailing company, as noted by even Joel Connelly: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/246537_joel31.html

By your logic against earned compensation, like Cantwell's wealth - in the form of RealNetwork stock she earned - in 2000 should also have been a problem.

Posted by: Eric Earling on July 13, 2006 08:37 PM
7. Well you gotta hand it to Wilson. He wasn't going to quit his campaign on the cheap. The Dems are really scared of the angry extreme left.

I think I'll sign on as chief lover of all things Progressive at Horse Ass, spout Bush hatred, Drink Liberally, etc. Then in 2008, I'll run against a prominent Democrat on a Nutroots extreme left platform. I'm aiming high. I've got two kids, a beautiful wife, and I look as American and as electable as Apple Pie, so it's going to take $10K a month to get me on board Patty.

But $10K a month won't phase the Dems because when it comes to getting power, they'll do anything, even if it means hating and destroying their country.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 13, 2006 09:05 PM
8. You've got to hand it to Wilson. He's essentially a nobody (sort of reminds me of Nickels in stature and intellect), but was able to bluff Cantwell into thinking he was a somebody. Look for him to show up on the World Championship of Poker Tour.

Posted by: Organization Man on July 13, 2006 09:33 PM
9. bartleboob, have you been sniffin the acetone again?!

Posted by: alphabet soup on July 13, 2006 09:54 PM
10. Wow. The public will not like this.

Posted by: Michele on July 13, 2006 10:56 PM
11. Bartleby, don't even try. It's not workin' for you.

Posted by: Michele on July 13, 2006 10:57 PM
12. $8000 seems like a paltry sum to me when you consider that the campaign doesn't have to spend money campaigning against Wilson for the primary anymore. Having him instead assisting in campaigning for the Cantwell campaign further helps.

People have spent more money for far less return - just look at McGavick's spending pace.

Posted by: Daniel K on July 14, 2006 12:00 AM
13. Daniel K...

But, McGavick didn't "Hire" Cantwell....Get the point?

McGavick's spending pace has nothing to do with it. He can spend as he pleases.

Posted by: Chris on July 14, 2006 06:33 AM
14. Have to admit that I was hoping the pay would be the traditional 13 pieces of silver -- whatever that is worth these days.

Those who think the deal a good idea tactically should look at today's Devericks cartoon, or at (most) of the comments on Postman's blog.

Posted by: Jim Miller on July 14, 2006 06:38 AM
15. Daniel is right on as far as the "buyout". For a "buyout", it was money well-spent.

But Daniel misses the point, this isn't about how much the "buyout" should be. It is about principles or lack of them by both Wilson and Cantwell.

As a politician, how can you still expect to be a politician when you "buyout" your opponent and then get caught at it. Big problem for Cantwell don't you think?

Posted by: swatter on July 14, 2006 07:06 AM
16. Eric, awesome blogs this week. Thanks.

Posted by: swatter on July 14, 2006 07:08 AM
17. Bartle - let me get this straight. Someone else gets paid by a private corporation some amount. Because of the third party private transaction, that has absolutely nothing to do with this instance, makes this instance OK?

Typical liberal relativism! He did it, so this isn't so bad.

Posted by: Fred on July 14, 2006 08:28 AM
18. From Maria Cantwell's campaign site:
"Dal LaMagna is a founder of ProgressiveGovernment.org, a non-partisan, educational organization dedicated to ensuring transparency and accountability in the executive branch of the federal government."

"non-partisan" I'm surprised they didn't say "mainstream", the other term they often use while trying to trick voters into believing they aren't really commies.
One look at ProgressiveGovernment.org website is all any sane person needs to understand exactly what Maria Cantwell and the rest of the "progressives" really are.

Here's hoping the McGavick campaign will use a few tidbits from that site in the fall campaign.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on July 14, 2006 08:48 AM
19. Cantwell's tactic doesn't seem like such a bad move to me. She only has to pay the $8000 until it's too late for Wilson to have any chance of running effectively against her, then fire him. It's probably a lot cheaper than campaigning against him. $8000 a month is a nice income, but it isn't exactly big money. Senators make a lot more.

As far as principle - these are Democrats; the concept has no application here. But I have less regard for Wilson, the politician who "sold out" his principles for a lousy $8000 a month, than I do for Cantwell for using a cost effective strategy to eliminate an unprincipled competitor. If it's substantially cheaper to buy him than to defeat him, then buy him. I don't see how it's much different than a defendant in a lawsuit settling out of court because it's cheaper, even though he believes he's right; or a company paying a resigning employee not to work for a competitor. Cantwell can always fire him in a month or two when it's too late for him to run a campaign with any chance of winning. From what I've heard about her, she'd have no compunction about doing it to him. Wouldn't that be amusing?

Based on Cantwell's past assinine comments about economics, I'm surprised that such a purely economic scheme ever occurred to her or anyone in her campaign. But then again, this kind of buying and selling may come naturally to politicians.


Posted by: ken on July 14, 2006 09:02 AM
20. Good try Ken at mixing politics and principles with respect to Cantwell.

You forgot the other part of the equation. Wilson met with Cantwell, looked into soul and found out she was against the Iraq War (or so Wilson said she said) while she was for it publicly. That, my friend, is lack of principle on the Cantwell part.

Don't mix apples and oranges.

Posted by: swatter on July 14, 2006 09:44 AM
21. I would never suspect Cantwell, or most other politicians, of having principles. I just don't think buying off Wilson was such a bad idea. And I'll like it even more if she dumps him as soon as he's not a threat to her.

Posted by: ken on July 14, 2006 09:49 AM
22. the golden parachute gripes represent a total misunderstanding of the way big business works.

These are the same people who work the worker-bee jobs and complain "where's my share?" when corporations profit. Face it, you have a $9/hour job. Anyone can do it. You deserve nothing. You're a peon. McGavick busted his hump to turn a company around. I don't think his compensation is out of line for a corporation of that size.

Posted by: Eric on July 14, 2006 10:23 AM
23. Does anyone know "who" invited "who"? Is it known if Cantwell approached Wilson, or did Wilson approach Cantwell?

Either way, it tells me that my congresswoman will PAY for what SHE wants. Or as Bugsy would say "Snuff Out" the competition......

Posted by: Chris on July 14, 2006 10:23 AM
24. Where are the damming editorials of the Payola??? Oh right they all get Payola as well! Then they tell us how it is going to be.... At least until the Blethen Family tries to finish off the PI so we will only have one mast head that throws away the inheritance of a free press and the blood of millions of patriots so they can support out and out America hatred.

Oh wait I forgot....the SeaTimes won't care about the JOA and we will see a sudden renegotiation of it right after estate tax reform so the young Blethen can make a mess of his inheritance and the PI can stay open and Art Thiel can keep his job and Joel Connelly can continue to vote from whereever he wants. All delivered courtesy of the Hearst Co. lobbyists reminding the Dems of the free PR and easy passes they have and will continue to get but could go away if the PI were to close.

Posted by: Col. Hogan on July 14, 2006 10:25 AM
25. Ken @ 23

Now by dumping Wilson, wouldn't that be a bit HARSH.... That would mean she was just USING him to get what she wanted?

As far as principles goes, there aren't any left were these two are concerned. Cantwell is Pro War, and Wilson is Anti War. By being in the same Camp now, they BOTH have compromised their integrity to any Voter who had faith in them....

Shame on them both.

Posted by: Chris on July 14, 2006 10:30 AM
26. For either of them to have compromised their integrity presupposes that they had any to begin with...

Posted by: JC on July 14, 2006 11:33 AM
27. Jc @ 26

So True, So True !!! Thanks for the chuckle..:)

Posted by: Chris on July 14, 2006 12:07 PM
28. Every liberal has their price apparently. No wonder liberals support legalizing prostitution.

Amazing how so called "principled progressives" are easily bought off. Makes one wonder how they'd act if put in charge of national security and facing an enemy (Chinagate anyone?)

Posted by: pbj on July 14, 2006 07:37 PM
29. Col Hogan: you need to write a novel. Seriously. You've got the Hemingway sentence structure down cold.

Posted by: Organization Man on July 14, 2006 08:38 PM
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