“Obviously unfounded and frivolous” [u]

Thus spoke the Executive Ethics Board in concluding that current and former employees of the state’s Department of Commerce did not violate any laws or conduct rules relating to energy-storage technology and associated grants, including those to the Snohomish County PUD. The Seattle Times published the findings. Conspicuously absent was any mention by the Everett Herald, which has been running a sensation-mongering series of allegations against the PUD and its recently retired general manager.

In June of last year the Herald ran this story—as I recall, above the fold on the front page. It was co-written by Dan Catchpole and Jerry Cornfield. The headline read:

Complaints say that commerce officials helped PUD score a grant

So, why did the Herald‘s publisher and editors decline to report the exonerations? There is still time, of course. I’m waiting, but not with bated breath.


UPDATE (Jan. 27, 2016):

More than a week after the story was published in the Seattle Times and other outlets, the Herald finally shares with its readers the news that there was no basis for the “anonymous” allegations made against current and former Department of Commerce employees. They had been implicated by persons unknown in an alleged conspiracy to siphon Clean Energy funds in the direction of 1Energy via the Snohomish County PUD.

I was struck by the irony of the Herald piece. Here’s the relevant quote:

“There is still a great perception out in the public that you have executive branch people going from job to job, grant to grant and the money follows them,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who is chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee.

First of all, Senator Ericksen could hardly know how “the public” perceives the issue he describes, that people are “going from job to job, grant to grant and the money follows them.” Moreover, that notion was soundly debunked by the Ethics Commission investigating the allegations.

Now for the ironic part. The “perception,” such as it is, was fueled by the Herald itself, beginning with its initial sensationalist story on the spurious charges leveled by a PUD employee against his superiors and 1Energy employees. That, in turn, led to the Herald‘s editors lionizing the whistleblower. The scandal-mongering was continuously churned by the newspaper in subsequent reports, including this one on the Ethics Commission investigation.