Former WA legislator: Statements in voter pamphlets should be verified

Jan 10, 2023, 1:50 PM | Updated: 2:00 pm
Voter's Pamphlet...
Should candidate statements in voter pamphlets be verified by a third party? (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Should candidate statements in voter pamphlets be verified by a third party? That was the topic taken up by KIRO Newsradio interim host Brandi Kruse and former state legislator Chad Magendanz.

Magendanz wrote a Seattle Times Op-Ed advocating for a new law that would have the Secretary of State verify some basic details of information published in voter pamphlets.

Currently, there is no limitation or fact-checks on what a candidate can publish in the pamphlet.

Magendanz is advocating for legislation that would fact-check information published in all voter pamphlets around three specific areas: professional experience, education, and elected experience. It would be introduced by Secretary of State Steve Hobbs.

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“Well, I chose these three areas specifically because they are pretty cut and dry,” Magendanz said. “There’s not a lot of interpretation that goes into whether you actually have a degree and can show it on your transcript or not. You know, there’s probably some of that’s going to happen, or at least accusations or impressions of that sort of thing. And so you’re really relying on the parties to audit the process occasionally, just to keep them honest.”

The issue gained traction after the election of George Santos as the U.S. representative from New York’s 3rd congressional district. It came out that Santos reportedly lied or misrepresented several aspects of his resume and family.

A similar case happened in the Washington state legislature when it came out that then-candidate Clyde Shavers had misled voters about his military service.

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“It hits you hard, especially since we had a very similar situation with Graham Hunt back in 2016. And just like Shavers, he had a great military record, he was in the Air Force, and he served honorably. But then he started claiming to be to have served in the Marine Corps and have been a combat veteran and all these things,” Magendanz said.

“At that point, over a quarter of the caucus who were actually veterans stepped in and said, ‘Listen, this is this is not okay.’ And we insisted that he resigned, and we policed our own. And so I guess there’s some expectation that the Democrats would do something similar.”

Magendanz served two terms in the state House of Representatives, representing the 5th district from 2013 to 2017, and ran for the position again in 2022, losing to Democratic candidate Lisa Callan.

Magendanz served as a nuclear submarine officer, which Shavers also claimed to do, from 1985 until 1997. Shavers later admitted that he did not complete his submarine training and instead transferred to the public affairs department.

Shavers isn’t the only state legislator who lied about their military experience in recent years, with a controversy arising in 2015 when a Seattle Times investigation showed that Rep. Graham Hunt lied about details of his military service. He ended up resigning in 2016.

You can listen to Brandi and Magendanz’s full discussion here:

Listen to KIRO middays every weekday afternoon from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Former WA legislator: Statements in voter pamphlets should be verified