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Kitsap deputies won’t endorse Russ Hauge
The Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild hasn’t determined which candidate it will endorse in this year’s Kitsap County prosecutor’s race, but it has decided who it will not endorse — incumbent Russ Hauge.
The guild announced last week, in a strongly worded statement, that while it was still assessing the other three candidates for the prosecutor seat, it had decided to officially oppose Hauge and encouraged the voters to consider one of the other three candidates in the August primary. Running against Hauge are fellow Democrat Bob Scales, Republican Tina Robinson and Independent Bruce Danielson.
Guild President Jay Kent explained that the guild took the unusual position of issuing an “anti-endorsement” because of its strong opposition to Hauge.
“The prosecutor’s office is a mess and Hauge is responsible for that,” Kent said. “We are not going to get the office’s problems fixed until he leaves the office.”
Kent said the guild wanted more time to assess the other three candidates, but it is “firmly set” against Hauge’s reelection.
Hauge said he was disappointed that the guild was not supporting his re-election effort.
“The issues that they raise are issues that we really have no control over, nor can I comment on them. We act as legal counsel for sheriff’s office and county commissioners, who manage labor contracts and pay. We’re essentially just the lawyers and anything I say to the county commissioners or the sheriff is subject to the lawyer-client privilege and I can’t rally talk about.”
Hauge noted that the deputies guild, unlike many other public sector bargaining units has for years used mandatory arbitration as a tool for negotiating contracts. Those arbitrations are contested legal matters, in many ways similar to an ongoing legal trial, and are adversarial, Hauge said.
“It’s an adversarial legal proceeding and we represent, by law, the adversary of the deputy guild in these legal proceedings, that is the sheriff’s office management and county commissioners,” Hauge said. “The positions that we take in the mandatory arbitration that the guild asks for, are positions that we are instructed to take by our clients. A lot of things get said in the context of litigation, but consider the source. Personally, I think every sheriff’s deputy should make twice as much as what they make now. I’m sorry the deputy guild is taking it personally.”
Kent, though, explained that the guild and its members had “no confidence” in the Prosecuting Attorney Civil Division.
“We are especially unhappy with Hauge’s management of civil law matters,” Kent said.“For our members, how the civil lawyers handle cases matters as much if not more. If our members get sued they are supposed to be defended by an attorney from the civil division, but most of our members would consider demanding that outside legal counsel be appointed if certain of Hauge’s attorneys were assigned to their case. We have seen his civil attorneys up close and we would not want them handling our matters, given their recent performance.”
Kent acknowledged that the way Hauge’s attorneys handled a number of recent cases with the deputies guild and other county labor unions influenced this assessment.
“Yes, they have interfered with our labor contract, and are a big part of the reason we have been working without one since 2009,” Kent said. “But it’s their overall performance and apparent incompetence that have alarmed us the most. As deputy sheriffs we are held to a high performance and ethics standard, and should be, but Hauge needs to hold his own deputy prosecutors to a similar standard.”
Kent mentioned that two of Hauge’s deputies recently were cited by the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission for withholding records from the guild and being less than truthful to an arbitrator about it.
“Our deputies would be fired if they lie, but as far as I know Hauge’s hasn’t done anything to investigate these deputies,” Kent said.
Kent mentioned the guild had identified other “ethical lapses” by Hauge’s deputies. Hauge’s chief civil prosecutor Jacquelyn Aufderheide was also cited by the Public Employment Relations Commission for unlawfully interfering with an agreement between the emergency dispatchers union and the county, he noted.
Kent said that the guild was concerned that another one of Hauge’s deputies had admitted to what the guild viewed as “potential tampering” with a lawsuit between the guild and the county by “improperly” talking to county judges while the case was pending. Kent noted that the lawyer later changed her story about the context of that exchange despite the fact that court transcripts demonstrate otherwise.
“It’s clear one of her versions of the story was untrue, yet we have seen Hauge take no action on this whatsoever,” Kent said.
Guild Vice President Andy Aman expressed similar concerns about the county’s civil lawyers.
“Of course our members are frustrated that they interfere with our contract and litigate everything to death, without apparent purpose,” Aman said. “But just as big of a concern for us is the apparent lack of professionalism we have directly observed. I would not want them representing me if I were personally sued.”
Aman explained that he recently watched Aufderheide in court trying to get a brief filed well after the filing deadline.
“She explained to the judge that she didn’t know that there was a deadline for filing the brief,” Aman said. “First of all, I just didn’t believe her but if that’s true that the chief civil prosecutor doesn’t know what the rules are for filing a brief that’s also very concerning. Frankly, I was embarrassed for her as I watched.”
Aman added that Hauge’s deputies, “seem to make a lot of mistakes and then make excuses for those mistakes.”