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West's computer
files called "highly offensive"

West's computer
files called "highly offensive"

Jimwest_8

Lawyers for Spokane, Wash., mayor James West are asking a judge to block the release of contents of West's work computer, in part because they would be "highly offensive to a reasonable person."

Lawyers for Spokane, Wash., mayor James West are asking a judge to block the release of contents of West's work computer, in part because they would be "highly offensive to a reasonable person." The Spokesman-Review newspaper, which in May broke stories contending that West offered young men city jobs in exchange for sex, is demanding the contents be released because they are public records. An attorney hired by the city council is also demanding the records. The computer contains about 1,800 cache files that West, a former Republican state senator and opponent of gay rights, doesn't want the public to see. The files allegedly contain sexually explicit correspondence and photos of young gay men, according to court documents filed by lawyers for the newspaper. Arguments were scheduled late Wednesday before Adams County superior court judge Richard Miller, who is hearing the case to avoid conflicts of interest in Spokane County. "Because the documents at issue constitute public records that are not exempt from disclosure under the Washington Public Disclosure Act, Mayor West's motion should be denied and the records should be immediately released," the newspaper contended. West faces a recall election December 6 in the wake of the allegations. His attorneys have argued that material on his government-owned computer is "personal social contact" information that would be "highly offensive to a reasonable person." Several young gay men told the newspaper they were offered perks, trips, or City Hall jobs and appointments by West, who has said he did nothing illegal. The FBI is investigating whether those offers and appointments constituted an abuse of public office. West has argued that he viewed gay Web sites on his own time, even if he used a city-owned computer, which was seized in May. The computer records have been copied onto three CDs that TheSpokesman-Review and other media outlets, including the Associated Press, wish to access. City policies prohibit the use of city equipment to view pornographic Web sites. The newspaper said the state's Public Disclosure Act is intended to be used liberally in favor of access to the public. West argued that the cache files are not public records because they do not relate to the functions of government and were not created during work hours. The newspaper argued that West allegedly offered a city internship to a person posing as a young man who was actually a computer expert hired by the newspaper. That conduct is the basis for the recall election currently under way against West. The newspaper also disputed that release of the files would offend the public, because the disclosures would not be new. Attorney Mark Busto was hired by the city council on September 6 to investigate whether West violated city policies or ethics. In an interview with the newspaper last week, West said he used his city computer to visit gay Web sites. "The files contain images of private individuals who I believe have an expectation of privacy and are not related to my official duties as mayor," West said. "When I traveled out of town, I took my city computer and was told I could use it for personal business on my own time and considered it my personal computer," West told the newspaper. "I've told the press and the public that I visited gay Web sites, said it was inappropriate, I apologized for it at the time, and I haven't done it since," he said. (AP)

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