Dori: I will not be bullied out of watch-dogging gov. by Executive Constantine
We broke a story six months ago about King County Executive Dow Constantine. For about two years, I had been hearing from King County Sheriff’s deputies and detectives that Executive Constantine was abusing his Executive Protection Unit. These are special personnel who go out of the state for training, and literally learn how to put their lives on the line to protect a politician.
The stories we got, corroborated through many public records requests, were that Dow Constantine would regularly go out to bars while using his Executive Protection Unit as his personal chauffeur. The taxpayers would pay to drive him around while he went bar-hopping.
Last week, a listener contacted me saying that he ran into Dow Constantine at a bar and cafe in West Seattle while he and his friends were playing Golden Tee Golf after work. I know a lot about our tipster. He is a stand-up guy. Below is the audio from his interview.
“There’s Dow sitting there having a cocktail with some young lady,” my listener said on the air. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, here he is again, just like Dori has been talking about.'”
The listener went outside to see if the sheriff’s office escort was there, and spotted an unmarked black car with government plates in the parking lot.
My source told me that he saw Dow walk into the restaurant portion of the business after paying his bill in the bar, as if to go have something to eat. But a few minutes later, he spotted something bizarre.
“About 10 minutes later, I see him running — literally running — and ducking underneath the front window, running by, and going to his security detail, [ostensibly] hoping that nobody would see him running out of the restaurant,” the listener said. “He ducked down, of course I see him running by, and I look out of the parking lot window there, and he’s getting into the unmarked car, and off he goes.”
If a random listener had contacted me with the same story about Jenny Durkan, Bob Ferguson, or Jay Inslee, I wouldn’t run with it. I don’t have years of history that is completely consistent with what the listener told me.
Where I’m going to be open and honest with you is sharing what Dow Constantine’s office said through his communications director.
First they tried to deny that Dow was there. We had a photo to prove he was there. Then they said that it wasn’t a security detail waiting in the parking lot. The communications director wrote this to our management:
As a former journalist, I appreciated our earlier conversation about the need for accuracy, and our pledge to work better with you guys. But this morning exemplifies some very real problems with your news organization.
First off, their pledge implies that they haven’t worked well with us in the past. Second, what I do and say on the radio has nothing to do with KIRO Radio’s news department. My show is about the prism through which I view the world. First and foremost, my goal is to be a watchdog of government.
The King County Sheriff’s Office told us that it was not a sheriff’s vehicle in the parking lot. They informed us that it was a City of Seattle vehicle — they ran the plate for us — and that it was a Seattle police officer in the driver’s seat.
We contacted the Seattle Police Department and asked if they were now providing an escort for Dow Constantine. SPD told us that they never provide security for the county executive, and that that is always in the hands of the county, even when Dow has speaking engagements with the City of Seattle. Their best guess was that the person driving the city car was there getting lunch. I do not know why a uniformed cop would be driving a City of Seattle vehicle.
So there is what Constantine’s office, the sheriff’s office, and SPD have told us, and they contradict what was said on the air.
I want to make clear that I was wrong about the car. I assumed that an unmarked car with an exempt plate with a cop was a sheriff’s vehicle because that was Dow’s history. I made that assumption without checking the facts.
Personally, I think Executive Constantine and his office are lying to us. I think he is a dishonorable person for a variety of reasons. We know that he abused his Executive Protection Unit for years. We know that he, in a Mafia-style attack on businesses around Boeing Field, told them that if they service an airplane working with ICE, they will lose all of their King County contracts. How do you go to businesses that employ good, blue-collar people and threaten to effectively destroy them? That is the true character of Dow Constantine.
Constantine’s office is claiming that he got into a ride share after his time at the bar. I asked our source about this. He said that if there was a ride share parked right next to the city car that happened to be the same color and style of car, it could be possible — but that would be a very strange coincidence.
None of this makes sense. We have sent an email to Constantine’s communications guy asking for the ride share receipt from last Friday. He answered that this was an “absurd request” and “frankly nuts.”
For years, we have been trying to talk with Executive Constantine. When we were researching the story on the Executive Protection Unit, we spent months trying to get him on the record. His office refused to comment. When we broke this story a couple of days ago, they refused to talk. They said they didn’t trust us. I wouldn’t like me if I were them, but they can certainly trust me. They’ve decided it would be best not to come on the air and present their side of the story in all of these cases. The communications director further wrote:
KIRO has a fine tradition of news gathering in the Northwest. This morning showed that reputation is at grave risk.
I would assume someone like him, with his news background, would understand that there is a difference between news and talk. We blend them here. This show is about the prism through which I view the world, and first and foremost, I will be a watchdog of government.
I will suggest what to me is the tiniest of possibilities. My source confirmed that he saw Dow duck under a window and run to a vehicle in the parking lot, get in it, and leave. Perhaps there was a ride share parked right next to the City of Seattle vehicle that had been sitting there the whole time, and perhaps the ride share looked very similar to the city vehicle.
I simply do not believe Dow Constantine, but to be honest and fair, I wanted to present his office’s rebuttal.
Again, I make this public offer to Executive Constantine. Come on my show at any time. We’ve got things in common — we both went to the University of Washington, we both worked at the former KCMU Radio on campus. We just took very different career paths. We would have so much to talk about if you came on the show. You have an open invitation to come on this radio show at any time. And if your office can provide me with a ride share receipt for last Friday afternoon, I will apologize to you because I will always be fair.
But here’s the bottom line. When you send these emails, when you talk to my management about KIRO Radio being “at grave risk,” I will not be bullied. I will not be intimidated. And I will not be silenced.
Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.