Citizen Draft for New County Prosecutor
As the deadline draws near there is not much rumbling about a candidate to challenge our current county prosecutor. Therefor we, the affected citizens, must draft our own candidate and prevail upon him or her to challenge the incumbent.
Mark Nichols is the incumbent. He is nearing the end of his first term as head honcho although he worked many years as then prosecutor, Deb Kelly’s assistant. When Kelly resigned before the end of her term she anointed Nichols her successor. Most of the big-money payouts for which taxpayers have been tapped were under Nichols’ administration.
Voters may recall the million dollar payout to the highly experienced ladies Nichols fired from the prosecutor’s office in an age discrimination case. Presumably he likes to work around younger women.
This may be part of the reason then County Commissioner; Jim McEntire fired Nichols to appoint Will Payne. Nichols defeated Payne at the next election. McEntire’s instincts were good since Nichols has cost us other expensive payouts in his own term such as the $500,000 payout in the Lange Settlement Agreement. Clallam taxpayers were tapped to pay this not the “risk pool.”
Of course this is but a part of the actual expense of the Lange imbroglio. Nichols squandered hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting the Lange case–for decades–only to capitulate when Lange got the best of him at court.
The end came when Nichols’ assistant prosecutor; Brian Wendt climbed out of the courthouse basement with a Banker’s Box full of records which had been secreted away for years. These records were responsive to Lange’s request under the Public Records Act–and had not been turned over by Nichols.
This could have been another multi-million dollar payout had not Lange been magnanimous and dropped his public records case. He’d already won his Land-Use Case against Nichols and didn’t want to stick the taxpayers for Nichols’ mismanagement. The “Risk Pool” does not cover violations of public records cases.
The strange thing about this public records case Nichols was involved in, at the same time he, the county prosecutor, sued his county treasurer, just to be sure she had turned over records requested of her office, in another public records request from the daily paper.
When Nichols first ran for office he promised to keep us “safe.” He promised to carry his own caseload and do his own prosecuting at trials. So far he has not argued one case in court in his first 3 years in office. Instead, Nichols has brushed off more than one hundred cases law enforcement officers referred for prosecution. These are well investigated cases with many investigative hours put into them.
This after increasing his budget by a million dollars and hiring 9 new staff members. Has he no confidence in his staff? Evidently not. Valued county attorneys already left his office and others are angling for a way out. Ask your friends in law enforcement what they think of Nichols’ “administration of justice.” Not the leadership, who must “kiss his ring,” but the rank and file who do the painstaking investigations Nichols dismisses.
Other areas of inquiry which might be fruitful include the very likely possibility Nichols has been involved in romantic relationship(s) with county employee(s). If true, this could be a huge ethical lapse since Nichols is supposed to be the attorney for everyone working for the county. It is ethically forbidden for an attorney to sleep with a client.
Further, returning to the Lange situation, it appears Nichols allowed a breach of the Shoreline Management Act for years by failing to enforce clear violations–a misdemeanor. Instead of enforcing it he spent years defending the indefensible. At taxpayer’s expense.
This equates to permitting a public nuisance, another misdemeanor. It seems a clear breach of multiple Clallam County Codes. His clear and intentional breach of the public records act is another example of legal violations. His lawsuit against the county treasurer is clearly an act of intimidation of an elected official. All in violation of his oath of office.
Added to the professional lapses of this county prosecutor are the personal lapses, as alleged.
With the experienced ladies out of the way Nichols hired younger ladies. One of whom, his office manager, recently filed a sexual harassment suit against Nichols claiming he spent hours a day in her office attempting to initiate a sexual relationship.
This is no ordinary office manager, she and her husband were personal friends with Nichols. They visited in each others’ homes. They had bar b ques together. Nichols is reportedly her daughter’s godfather. Nichols allegedly spent hours attempting to break up their marriage-for his own personal gratification. If so, this is predatory behavior.
Her lawsuit has been conveniently postponed until after the election. In this way we will not be able to know if he is fit for office until after he is re-elected to office—unless we find a challenger.
So, I’m asking you, the public, to nominate a local attorney whom you think can replace the county prosecutor and keep us, and the office staff safe.
You can nominate here. Anonymously if you prefer. Anyone you name will be listed and we can have a straw poll right here on this website.
Better yet, call up your attorney friend and refer them here, suggesting they take a whack at it.
Most suggest Nichols has too much campaign money coming in from family and hedge fund managers on the east coast. With his record a decent challenger would not have to spend much to unseat him. Just get out and see the people.
Readers put forth these recommendations:
And the nominees are:
Will Payne (former acting county prosecutor, appointed by then County Commissioner McEntire to replace Nichols)
John Black (already committed to run for bench at District Court II in Forks)
Tim Davis (works in the state Attorney General’s office in Port Angeles)
Bob Schroeter (recently resigned from the Economic Development Council)
Selinda Barkhuis (former county treasurer, run out of office by Nichols, McEntire, et. al.)