State supreme court has affirmed a judge's ruling that a
recall petition against Spokane mayor Jim West can proceed.
Just hours after lawyers for West argued that the
petition by Shannon Sullivan was factually and legally
insufficient, the high court affirmed a lower court
ruling that the document bearing a single abuse-of-office
allegation could proceed to signature gathering.
Sullivan filed her recall petition in May,
shortly after The Spokesman-Review newspaper in
Spokane published a series of articles detailing how
West—a conservative Republican who was a former
state senator and longtime gay rights
opponent—had been meeting men online for sex. Her
petition alleges that West used his elected office for
personal gain—specifically, that West wrote a
recommendation letter to help someone he believed to be an
18-year-old man get a City Hall internship. The teen turned
out to be a computer forensics expert hired by The
Spokesman-Review. Sullivan contends that the
recommendation was inappropriate because of the
possible implication that the man would get an
internship in exchange for sexual favors.
West has acknowledged having relationships with
adult men but denies any misuse of office. He has not
been charged with a crime, but the FBI is investigating.
Sullivan's lawyer, Jerry Davis, said he was
thrilled with the ruling but hoped a recall election
wouldn't be necessary. "What would be nice would be if
the mayor would do the right thing and resign," Davis
said. "If he had any character whatsoever, that's what he'd do."
West's office referred reporters to the mayor's
lawyers, Bill Etter and Carl Oreskovich, who said in a
statement: "Although we disagree with the outcome, we
respect the court's decision. As to the basis for the
court's ruling, we'll await their written opinion. Mayor
West will continue to perform his duties and
responsibilities as he has throughout this process,
and we will continue to advance and protect his interests."
The ruling means recall supporters can begin
collecting signatures immediately.
Spokane County elections supervisor Paul Brandt
said it would be very difficult to get the required
12,600 valid signatures in time for an election this
fall. Brandt said the elections office would have to
receive the signed petitions no later than Friday, because
it will need four weeks to verify them and take other
steps necessary to get the recall on the November 8