Deadline passes; Lindquist recall push begins

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist is pictured at his annual fundraiser, held at King's Books in Tacoma, July 30, 2015. Backers have six months to bring a recall election of Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist to the ballot next spring.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist is pictured at his annual fundraiser, held at King's Books in Tacoma, July 30, 2015. Backers have six months to bring a recall election of Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist to the ballot next spring. Staff photographer

Backers of an effort to recall Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist will take their case to the streets Thursday. They need 38,642 valid voter signatures to bring the measure to the ballot in April.

The signature drive follows an Aug. 7 ruling in Superior Court. Visiting Judge Jay Roof found legal and factual sufficiency for the charge that Lindquist engaged in a vindictive prosecution of a Pierce County woman, Lynn Dalsing.

Prosecutors charged the former Longbranch resident with sex crimes in 2010 and 2014, accusing her of molesting her 7-year-old daughter.

The charges have been dismissed twice, most recently in March by Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy, who threw out charges of child rape against Dalsing because of prosecutorial vindictiveness.

Prosecutors have appealed that decision.

In seeking to recall Lindquist, backers waited until a 15-day clock ran out on a possible appeal of Roof’s findings to the Washington State Supreme Court.

Mark Hood, the Tacoma attorney who represented Lindquist in the recall hearing, said Wednesday that no appeal was filed.

Asked for comment on the recall charge, Lindquist provided an email statement:

“The proposed recall concerns a single case where our office acted to protect three children who were victims of rape and molestation. We are happy to have voters review the evidence.

“Our office prosecutes over 15,000 cases a year, pursuing justice and protecting the public. We have stood up for the community and we are confident the community will stand up for us.”

Recall backers are aiming for 58,000 signatures — a cushion against the invalid signatures that accompany such efforts. They have six months to reach their goal, and face a deadline of late February to turn the results in to the county auditor’s office.

“Our petition drive is starting, and we have 180 days to get the job done. But we want to do it as soon as possible,” said Fircrest resident Cheryl Iseberg, president of the recall committee.

“The sooner we collect the signatures and turn them in, the sooner the issue to recall Mark Lindquist will be on the ballot for voters to vote on.”

With legal hurdles cleared, a new phase begins: fundraising and endorsement gathering.

Recall backers have the endorsement of the Pierce County Deputy Sheriff’s Independent Guild.

The latest reports from the state Public Disclosure Commission show backers have raised about $3,150 to start the campaign; those numbers don’t include contributions received at a kickoff fundraiser Monday.

Lindquist’s fundraising and current endorsements are less clear.

A recently created Facebook group called “Support Our Prosecutor” claims more than 1,000 supporters, though some individuals have told The News Tribune their names were added to the group without permission.

Lindquist’s 2010 campaign website, also active, lists numerous endorsements from 2010 and promises to add 2014 endorsements. The website, checked Wednesday afternoon, showed no references to the recall campaign.

PDC records show Lindquist has filed contribution reports for his anticipated re-election campaign in 2018.

Those reports show total contributions of about $17,000 — including leftover money from Lindquist’s 2014 re-election effort and about $6,800 contributed between July 30 and Aug. 12.

That money can’t be used to oppose the recall, according to PDC rules.

“(Lindquist) cannot spend any of that money to keep the seat in light of that recall,” said Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman. “Whatever money’s left sitting in that 2018 campaign, as well as any new contributions, can only be spent for his re-election effort.”

Conversely, recall backers face no caps on contributions, due in part to a federal lawsuit tied to the last attempt to recall a county official: former Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam.

The lawsuit ended with a ruling that the state’s contribution limits didn’t apply to recall campaigns, and PDC officials have indicated they will abide by that decision in the Lindquist recall campaign.

Lindquist said his campaign is discussing recall rules with PDC officials.

“We believe there ought to be limits as a way to keep campaigns in the hands of the people rather than just a few folks with deep pockets,” he said in an email. “If the PDC is going to lift the limits, however, that rule should apply to both sides.

“As soon as the PDC clarifies the rules, we will move forward. I have an extensive list of bipartisan donors and supporters – in the thousands – and we will put together a first-rate, organized and professional campaign, as we did in 2010 and 2014.”

The Washam recall fell short of its signature goal in 2011; backers turned in 64,098 signatures, about 1,400 fewer than the 65,495 they needed.

Backers of the Lindquist recall face a much lower bar.

State laws governing recalls say petitioners must gather signatures representing 25 percent of the votes tallied in the official’s most recent election.

Lindquist ran unopposed in 2014, an off-year election that saw far lower turnout than the 2008 election that brought Washam to office.