News

Rossi appearance violates Navy policy

In the wake of a policy-breaking appearance by Dino Rossi, officials at the Whidbey Naval Air Station’s CPO Club will be more vigilant in the future about who rents space in the military-owned facility, according to a base spokesperson.

Navy Public Affairs Office Kim Martin said it was determined after a May 20 event at the club hosted by North Puget Sound Association of Realtors that the appearance by the Republican gubernatorial candidate as guest speaker violated Navy policy.

“There is a restriction on holding political events on government property,” she said.

Military policy and federal law prohibit the use of installations or facilities by any candidate for any activity that can be considered political in nature, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Jill Strait, a spokesperson for Rossi’s campaign, said Rossi gave his typical “stump campaign speech” but geared it more toward real estate and business interests. She said the association rented the club and invited Rossi to speak.

“It was their meeting. We just showed up to speak,” she said, adding that campaign officials had no idea that the speech violated any kind of rules.

Jason Easton, government affairs director for the association, said the coordinator for the event spoke to a CPO Club official and was under the impression that Rossi’s appearance was fine as long as there was no fundraising.

“If we thought we were violating Navy policy, we wouldn’t have used the facility. We would have found another place,” he said.

Easton said the association has used the club before for events with political candidates and didn’t have any problems.

During the speech, Rossi thanked the members for their endorsement, shared ideas and gave “an update of what is going on in his campaign,” according to a “Note from Your President” on the North Puget Sound Association of Realtors Web site.

As for the CPO Club, Martin said the issue has been resolved with some education and a slight change in the booking procedure for groups that used the facility.

“It won’t be happening again,” she said.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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