Recall charges against county prosecutor: 'Bully' or just 'good work?'

By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch Recall charges have been filed against Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist, accusing him of misconduct in his official duties. The allegations were submitted by a citizen last Wednesday to the county auditor GÇô the start of a process in which a judge will review them and decide whether they warrant a possible campaign to remove Lindquist from office. In the 12 charges of misconduct filed by Cheryl Iseberg, a University Place resident who is leading the recall effort, Lindquist generally is accused of abusing his power, creating an unprofessional atmosphere in the prosecutor's office, and misusing public funds. Lindquist didn't respond to any specific allegations but did issue a statement in which he defended his office and apparently referred to the recall bid as "noise.GÇ¥ "Every day we hear from people asking us to keep up the good work and protect the community,GÇ¥ Lindquist said. "And that's exactly what we're doing. As (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson recently said, we're going to tune out the noise and focus on our jobs.GÇ¥ In a Superior Court hearing that hadn't been scheduled at the end of last week, a judge will hear arguments from both sides and decide whether the charges against Lindquist are legally valid and meet criteria to allow the attempted recall process to continue, or if the charges are insufficient and throws them out. The losing side can appeal the judge's ruling to the state Supreme Court. If the recall moves forward, its backers would be given six months to collect approximately 38,000 signatures of registered Pierce County voters to put the issue on the ballot. Voters countywide would decide in an election next year if Lindquist remains in office. The number of signatures is 25 percent of the total votes cast in the last general election for prosecuting attorney. That's the percentage state law requires to qualify recalls for the ballot. Lindquist, previously a deputy prosecutor, has been prosecuting attorney since 2009, when he was appointed by the County Council to replace Gerry Horne, who retired. Lindquist was elected the next year to serve the rest of Horne's unexpired term, and he was re-elected last year to a new four-year term. The recall effort has a Facebook page and a web site (Recall Mark Lindquist), where the group led by Iseberg is seeking financial donations and volunteers in support of a possible recall campaign. In Facebook and web site postings, the group outlined "why we are pursuing this action.GÇ¥ They said Lindquist: " "Buys loyalty using titles and raises from taxpayer dollars rather than earning it through professional integrity. Patronage over merit has resulted in poor decisionmaking and bad behavior tapping the county's liability reserves.GÇ¥ The group noted "financial lossesGÇ¥ for the county in lawsuits arising from cases prosecuted under Lindquist's authority, includindg one in which a defendant alleged false imprisonment because "prosecutors under Lindquist's command failed to provide exonerating informationGÇ¥ to the defendant's attorney. " Is "a bully who lacks professional grace, to include maintaining an enemies list of professionals who point out his injustices.GÇ¥ " Is "consumed with self-promotion, draining public resources more wisely devoted to actual service delivery.GÇ¥ " Conducts "the public's business in private, avoiding accountability,GÇ¥ and has "caused two well-respected (deputy) prosecutors to file whistleblower complaints against him.GÇ¥ The whistleblower complaints, filed through county government, are similar to the recall allegations of intimidation within the prosecutor's office. In government, whistleblower is the title given to formal complaints by government employees who allege inappropriate governmental action. Employees making such a complaint are protected from retaliation, even if an investigation by county officials determines the claims are unwarranted. The investigations of complaints against Lindquist aren't finished. In his re-election campaign last year and in a speech to the Eatonville Chamber of Commerce in 2011, Lindquist credited teamwork within the prosecutor's office and with police agencies for crackdowns on gang violence and other violent and drug-related crimes. The recall effort against Lindquist is the second attempted recall of an elected Pierce County official in the past four years. Dale Washam, then the assessor-treasurer, was targeted in 2011. That bid, headed by Puyallup resident Robin Farris, reached the signature-gathering stage before falling short of the necessary number and failing to reach the ballot.


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