The temperature of the 31st Legislative District Senate race has jumped another degree, if it hasn’t already broken the thermometer.
The latest round of recriminations involves a pair of tough campaign mailers by state Sen. Pam Roach this month that have her challenger, Matt Richardson, steaming.
“He pled guilty to sexually molesting a young girl,” one of them says, over a picture of a suspicious-looking man watching children through a playground fence. “Now he’s running for state Senate.”
Richardson says the image is “terrible.” He fired off a letter Monday to the state Public Disclosure Commission, alleging the mailers violate a law against defamation in election materials. Roach says they are accurate.
It’s true that Richardson pleaded guilty in 1993 to communication with a minor for immoral purpose, in what’s known as an Alford plea, for acts he allegedly committed as a minor. (Under an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges that there’s enough evidence to win a conviction at trial.) Prosecutors say the conviction was later dismissed.
Then and now, Richardson maintains his innocence.
The picture of a grown man watching children could mislead someone into thinking Richardson committed sex crimes as an adult, and he seizes on that as well in his letter. Roach counters that allegations against him by Federal Way Public Schools show a pattern continuing into adulthood. (A school official couldn’t conclusively determine the truth of a sexual harassment claim by students, calling it “probable.”)
Richardson also contradicts a host of other claims made in the mailers.
Jordan Schrader, staff writer