The Democratic candidate for state attorney general is running a hard-hitting ad that accuses his Republican opponent of missing votes as a county councilman and wasting taxpayer funds on his own office and travel.
The ad backed by Bob Ferguson makes four specific claims about his fellow King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. Each claim is based on fact ... but in each case, context is key. KING 5 breaks each claim down:
1. Dunn overspent his office budget.
King County Councilmembers receive $300,000 to $350,000 annually to run their offices -- money used for staff, supplies, furniture etc. In 2009, Dunn went over budget by $800. Dunn said the problem was the late submission of an invoice for a mailing he sent to constituents.
Dunn also noted that since 2005, he has under-spent his official council budget by a combined $80,000.
"I've been very good in returning my tax dollars to the public overall if you look at the big picture," Dunn said.
2. Dunn spent taxpayer funds on a Persian rug.
Eight years ago, Dunn spent $707 on a Persian rug for his office, making the purchase at a Bellevue store in his council district.
"It's a little bit high, compared to a Home Depot rug, slightly higher. But we went cheaper on the chairs with Pier One imports," Dunn said.
He said he spent a total of just $2,000 on office furniture and hasn't spent any additional funds on the office decor since 2006. Of note, council offices come equipped with carpeting, so the rug was in fact purely decorative.
3. Dunn went on a $6,000 taxpayer-funded trip to Australia.
In 2006, Dunn indeed traveled Down Under with a bipartisan group of Washington officials organized by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
"That's a very important trip that I went on. ... Governor Chris Gregoire was on it, Greg Nickels the Mayor of Seattle, Port and city council members. A lot of Democrats and Republicans on that trip," Dunn said.
The group studied tolling issues and met with officials from Qantas Air.
"I've only taken one trip in my eight years and that was eight years ago, overseas, and for that kind of a trip, from time to time as a regional leader, you need to do that for job creation," he said.
4. Dunn has missed nearly 500 votes in the King County Council.
Dunn acknowledged to KING 5 that he has missed more votes than most other councilmembers. But he said many of those votes were "consent items" -- non-controversial measures where councilmembers were in agreement.
"If you step out to have meetings, like I frequently do ... you step out for 30 seconds, you miss 15 votes," Dunn said.
Again, there's truth to each of the Ferguson ad's claims about Dunn. And now voters have Dunn's explanation for each one to weigh as they consider which candidate to support.