Bailey says she doesn’t condone hit piece against rival

A Republican state senator from Oak Harbor has taken the uncommon step of publicly denouncing the way a Democratic opponent is shown in a mailer paid for with money raised by her GOP colleagues.


A Republican state senator from Oak Harbor has taken the uncommon step of publicly denouncing the way a Democratic opponent is shown in a mailer paid for with money raised by her GOP colleagues.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, in a letter published in the Whidbey News-Times and an interview and letter in The Herald, criticized the mailer’s use of a photo portraying challenger Angela Homola in an “unflattering manner.”

Bailey insisted she had no involvement with the materials sent by the Good Government Leadership Council, an independent committee funded solely by the political operation of the Senate Republican Caucus.

“This piece was a complete surprise to me,” Bailey wrote in her letters to the editor. I do not condone such actions and have reiterated to my campaign staff and supporters that I have not and will never authorize literature such as this.”

In The Herald interview, Bailey said she wrote the letter in response to letters published in the  News-Times, The Herald and other newspapers “making me look like a terrible individual” for the existence of the mailer.

“The reality is people can put out whatever they want to put out,” she said. “I don’t like anybody using them on my behalf. I don’t like anybody using them against me. The campaign should be more about what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished and what the plan is for the future.”

The mailers targeted Homola’s tenure as an employee in the Island County Planning Department that ended with a negotiated layoff in 2003. They also criticized her record as an elected Island County commissioner from 2009-13.

They contain a photo of Homola as she scrubs moss off her roof. She is in jeans and T-shirt and wearing gloves. Some of the mailers crop the photo to show only her face and it appears grainy and a bit out of focus.

Homola, who said she is a trained carpenter, said the mug photo is a doctored version of a picture she posted online. She wanted to show herself doing something that voters would not likely see Bailey doing — climbing onto a roof to clean off the moss by hand.

Homola’s greater frustration and anger is directed at assertions in mailers which she said distort information about her job performance and legislative record.

Homola set up a page on her campaign website for voters to “Get the facts” about the group behind the mailers.

While Bailey’s campaign didn’t send out the mailers, Homola insists the senator “could put a stop” to their continued use. Homola called on Bailey to give back contributions received from individuals and groups that also gave to the Republican PAC.

“How can you be a public servant and not have any control over your campaign finances?” she asked. “If you can’t control your campaign finances, how can we trust you to be in control of the state finances?”

The Senate Republican Caucus operates the Leadership Council as its soft-money political action committee. As of Monday, it had raised $1.4 million and given $295,000 to the Good Government Leadership Council for its independent campaign efforts. That PAC spent nearly $40,000 on the pieces targeting Homola.

Bailey said she did express her concerns about the mailers privately to caucus leaders as well as some donors who’ve given money to her campaign and the Leadership Council. She declined to identify with whom she spoke. Nor, she said, is she intending to return any contributions.

There is little more Bailey can do. State law bars her and her campaign staff from coordinating in any fashion with any independent political committee.

Given recent history, her caucus isn’t likely to ease off.

Eight years ago, the caucus political operation funneled money through the Citizen Action Group to pay for a torrent of mailers attacking then Democratic state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen. One famously featured Haugen’s photo alongside those of deceased Soviet leader Yuri Andropov and liberal Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, of Seattle.

Haugen withstood the barrage and prevailed in the election.

In 2012, the Leadership Council started using the Good Government Leadership Council as its conduit.

That year it spent $256,790 on a political offensive against the venerable Haugen. Among the salvos was a mailer with an image of Haugen photoshopped with hands covering her ears to symbolize she had stopped listening to constituents.

It worked. Bailey, then a state representative, defeated Haugen in one of the year’s most combative and expensive legislative races.


More in News

City council candidates focus on development at forum

The city of Oak Harbor needs to get out of the way… Continue reading

Piper Travis
County settles for $3.1M in woman’s jail-related death

Jail staff neglected a Whidbey Island woman as she became seriously ill, her family alleged.

Sewage plant recognized as project of the year

Oak Harbor’s new clean water facility was recently honored as one of… Continue reading

Workshop looks at rising sea level

Whidbey Island dwellers may have a interest in the effects rising sea… Continue reading

Man held on $100,000 bail for child porn

An Oak Harbor man admitted to having “multiple gigabytes” of child pornography… Continue reading

Pumpkin pickers needed

Liz Sherman picks sugar pie pumpkins at Sherman’s Pioneer Farm in Coupeville.… Continue reading

Leaders work on plan to end homelessness

Whidbey leaders and residents have been discussing the issue of homelessness for… Continue reading

Agreement reached between hospital, island fire districts

After months of negotiating, North and Central Whidbey fire districts have reached… Continue reading

Getting clean: Family reunites, offers hope for others battling addiction

Daniel and Adriana Aivles were addicted to heroin and living out of… Continue reading

Most Read