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mayor visited sex Web sites on city trips

mayor visited sex Web sites on city trips

Spokane, Wash., mayor James E. West used his city computer to check out online profiles of gay men while traveling on official business, The Spokesman-Review reported Saturday. The history of the embattled mayor's computer use was found in files buried deep within a compact disc that City Hall attorneys released to the newspaper this past week. The paper said the information contradicted West's repeated claims that he did not access gay Web sites during workdays. Attorneys for West, who faces a December 6 recall election, defended him in a statement released Friday afternoon. They said Web sites the mayor visited while traveling in Washington, D.C., on March 22 and April 5 and in Philadelphia on May 2 were made "after regular business hours, Eastern Standard Time.... Mayor West has been up front from the very beginning," attorneys Bill Etter and Susan Troppmann wrote in a statement e-mailed to The Spokesman-Review. "On May 5, 2005, the mayor stated he visited Web sites but not on city time or at City Hall," the statement said. "Mayor West was told, which is consistent with city policy, that he could use the city computer for personal uses when he traveled." The city's Internet access policy allows employees "limited use" of the Internet but says it should not be used to access or transmit obscene, profane, pornographic, abusive, harassing, discriminatory, or threatening information, pictures, or representations. Supporters of the recall effort allege that West offered help in obtaining a city internship to an online correspondent whom the mayor thought was an 18-year-old high school student. They also allege that he sent that person a photograph of himself and "raised issues of sex, discussed dating, and urged the person to keep Mayor West's identity a secret." The 18-year-old was actually a computer expert hired by The Spokesman-Review to verify rumors that West was a closeted gay man who was using his office for personal gain. The newspaper began publishing a series of articles in May about the mayor's secret life. West, a longtime Republican state senate leader and opponent of gay rights, has acknowledged making "errors" in his private life but said he has been an effective leader for Spokane who should remain in office. On Friday, The Spokesman-Review reported that West used his city computer to access information about a gay man in Fresno, Calif. The man's profile, on, showed that he lived in Fresno. The computer shortcut was last modified at 12:18 a.m., April 15, 2005, a day when city travel records show that West was in Fresno as a member of the Strengthening America's Communities Advisory Commission. Further review of the CD shows that West also used his laptop to access at 11:49 a.m. Pacific time on April 25, while he was in Denver en route to Washington, D.C., and at 11:57 a.m. Pacific time on May 2, while he was in Philadelphia, the paper reported Saturday. Computer records show that West, 54, checked out 82 profiles of gay men, most of them in their 20s, while in Philadelphia. The Internet addresses leading to profiles of the gay men are contained on a CD City Hall attorneys released to The Spokesman-Review on Thursday. West and his private attorneys did not object to the release of the CD, which contains only a portion of the material from the mayor's city-owned computer, seized in early May. West is pressing a court fight to prevent release of a second CD, which West's lawyers have said contains offensive material. In court last Wednesday, West's attorneys told Adams County superior court judge Richard Miller that the second CD's contents include the identities and photos of hundreds to thousands of men whose privacy West wants to protect. Meanwhile, a young gay man who filed a sexual harassment complaint against West in May has released additional transcripts of their online conversations. Ryan Oelrich, 24, was appointed to the Spokane Human Rights Commission by West and later complained that the mayor pressured him for sex. In a detailed time line released Thursday to the newspaper, Oelrich said he was first contacted by RightBi-Guy in August or September 2003 on and later by Cobra82nd, who said he'd changed screen names. Both were computer names used by West. Oelrich was a Gonzaga University student at the time. After learning he was corresponding with West, Oelrich said the mayor promised to help him find a job, offered him a City Hall internship, and continued to pressure him for sex. "He also asked me to accompany him to a [Gonzaga] Bulldogs game in California but told me there would only be one bed in the hotel room and I would have to share it with him. He told me he'd pay for the expenses. I declined," Oelrich said. Another time West dropped by Oelrich's home, offered him $300 cash to swim naked with him, and continued to press him for dates, Oelrich said.

Oelrich used the online names GonzagaRy and HappyCollegeGuy in the conversations. During Memorial Day weekend 2004, Cobra82nd said he'd been working on his house. "Now I'm looking for some cuddle bunny to nuggle with. You game?" Cobra82nd asked. "You will never score with me," HappyCollegeGuy replied. Later in the same conversation, Cobra82nd said he was getting a new Lexus convertible.

Cobra82nd: "You think? Maybe I'll have to give you a ride? Maybe give you a lil more." Cobra82nd said he was buying the car because of a "midlife crisis." "Is it over?" asked HappyCollegeGuy. "No, just starting.haha.need a sports car and a new mistress you interested in being the latter?" HappyCollegeGuy: "hmm, no. but best of luck anyway." (AP)

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