James E. West (politician)

James E. West (politician)

:"This article is about the Washington state politician. For the BSA Chief Executive, see James E. West (Scouting).":"For other similar names see James West."James Elton "Jim" West (March 28 1951 – July 22 2006) was an American politician. While serving as mayor of Spokane, Washington, he became embroiled in a sex scandal exposed by the major local newspaper, the "Spokesman Review". West was later recalled during a special election held on December 6 2005 was officially stripped of his duties as mayor ten days later. He died of cancer on 2006-07-22, five months after he was cleared of criminal charges by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

West was a native Spokanite. He served in the U.S. Army after high school and graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Criminal Justice in 1978. In 1982 West joined the Washington Legislature as a Republican and served until 2003, when he became mayor of Spokane.

While in the legislature he served as Senate Majority Leader. During these years, West supported several anti-gay bills, including one that would have banned gays and lesbians from working in schools and day care centers. He also proposed a law that would ban all sexual activity among persons under the age of 18 (the bill failed). He would later admit that he regretted voting for those measures. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/] In 1995, when West was a state senator, he advocated the impeachment of then-Gov. Mike Lowry for alleged sexual harassment.

West was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003, underwent multiple surgeries, and died from complications of the disease on July 22 2006. [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002649195_west27m.html]



David D. Hahn was a close friend of Jim West and a fellow officer with the Spokane Sheriff's Department. West and Hahn also worked together as troop leaders with a Spokane chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1981, after charges of sexual abuse of boys by Hahn became public, Hahn committed suicide.

In June 2003 under the leadership of editor Steven A. Smith, the "Spokesman Review" began a series of investigative reports into this wave of sexual abuse which occurred in Spokane during the 1970s and 1980's. The events were not covered by the Spokane media at the time they happened.

Starting in 2003 "Spokesman Review" reporter Bill Morlin began searching for information that might link West to the crimes. After more than 18 months of investigation Morlin had to give up this search as he could find no sources who were able to link West with sexual abuse committed by Hahn. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/view/]

However, as a result of this investigation West eventually became the target of a sting operation conducted by the newspaper. In 2004 Morlin received a tip from a still unidentified source that the real identity of the persona on the [http://gay.com Gay.com] website named "Cobra82" was in fact Spokane mayor James West. The newspaper then hired a professional investigator to create a false online persona on Gay.com named "Motobrock." This tactic was then used by the newspaper to arrange a meeting between the two. When Jim West turned up at for the meeting on a Spokane golf course the newspaper editor correctly concluded that Cobra82 was in fact the mayor. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/view/]

Scandal becomes public

In 2005 the "Spokesman Review" broke the story revealing new sex-abuse charges against West. Robert J. Galliher claimed that West had committed sexual abuse against him while a member of West's Boy Scout troupe. The new charges first came to light more than 20 years after the event and could not be confirmed by other witnesses. The validity of the allegations was also hurt by the fact that Galliher had a long criminal record. West called the molestation allegations "flat lies". However he admitted to having private online relationships in the past year through the Gay.com website. [http://www.spokesmanreview.com/jimwest/story.asp?ID=050505_westmain]

West confirmed the accusations of meeting men over the Internet but denied the charges that he had sought out minors. [http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/05/050905spokane.htm] Using the names "Cobra82" and "Right-BiGuy" he allegedly offered unpaid internships to young gay men (some of whom were just graduating from high school - none of whom, however, under the age of 18). [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/outing/response.html]

Calls for his resignation spread. West defended himself on a May 30, 2005, "Today Show" appearance. West explained his support for laws which were unfavorable to gays in this way: "If someone hires you to paint their house red, then you paint it red. Even if you think it would look better green." In a Spokane City Council meeting immediately afterward, a resolution requesting that he step down was passed unanimously (7-0), yet West announced he intended to continue on as Mayor.

On June 2, the Spokane County Republican Party, Washington State Republican Party, and Spokane County Democratic Chairwoman Katie Kirking called for West's resignation. [http://spokesmanreview.com/breaking/story.asp?submitDate=200562104818] The FBI and a special city commission were set up to investigate and determine if any laws or policies have been broken. [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002294146_webmayor31.html] In early August 2005, the FBI searched West's home and seized his personal computers as part of its public corruption investigation.

Shannon Sullivan, a Spokane citizen with no prior legal experience, filed a recall petition. A Superior Court Justice threw out two counts on the petition and upheld one. West then appealed that ruling to the State Supreme Court. On August 24 2005, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sullivan, allowing the recall to go forward. Because the State Supreme Court heard and ruled on this case in an emergency session during their summer recess, they did not file and publish a full opinion following their ruling.

Recall organizers collected over 17,000 signatures and submitted them to the elections office on September 21 2005. The elections office determined that more than 12,567 of those signatures were valid, so a special mail-in election was held on December 6 2005, to determine whether West would remain in office.

West was recalled by voters with 65% in favor of ousting him to 35% in favor of keeping him as mayor, with his term ending December 16 2005, the day the final votes were certified by the Spokane County Auditor's office.

The ousting of West also marked the first time in the history of Spokane that a sitting mayor was voted out of office. His duties were temporarily turned over to then-city council president Dennis P. Hession on December 16, 2005, who was later appointed by the city council to serve as mayor for the remainder of West's term. West was cleared of all charges by the FBI on February 16, 2006.

In the final days of his life, West was mulling over another opportunity to run for office. He also told KREM in his last TV interview that during his tenure in the state legislature he only regretted one vote, for a bill that would have banned gays from working in schools and day-care centers.

By the early fall of 2005 West's isolation from the Spokane community was nearly complete. He had only a few friends and family to turn to for support during his illness. He joined the traditional Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church led by Pastor Lonnie Mitchell. He received support and attended regularly until his death. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/view/]

Election results

List of votes from all of West's elections.


External links

* [http://spokesmanreview.com/jimwest/ "Spokesman Review" full investigative report]
* [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/default.cdnx/id/8044601/displaymode/1157 Today Show]
* [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002649195_west27m.html Even the mayor wonders: Who is the real Jim West? (Seattle Times)]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/ PBS Frontline report "A Hidden Life" (November 2006)]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • James Ellis (Australian politician) — James Ellis (16 September 1843 – 7 July 1930) was an Australian politician.Ellis was born in Jersey and migrated to Victoria in 1854 and moved to New South Wales in 1857. He became a major ship owner in Newcastle and acquired waterfront property… …   Wikipedia

  • James Davidson (UK politician) — James Duncan Gordon Davidson (born 10 January 1927) was a British Liberal politician and farmer. He served as Member of Parliament for Aberdeenshire West from 1966 to 1970, when he chose not to stand again because of a family illness [Michael… …   Wikipedia

  • James Thomas (Australian politician) — James Henry English Thomas (2 March 1826–16 July 1884) was a civil engineer who was Director of Public Works in Western Australia from 1876 to 1884.Born in London, England on 2 March 1826, James Thomas was educated at University College School… …   Wikipedia

  • James Carroll (Irish politician) — James Carroll (29 March 1913 – 30 July 1973) was an Irish politician. Carroll was elected to Dáil Éireann as a independent Teachta Dála (TD) at the 1957 general election for the Dublin South West constituency. He had stood at the 1954 general… …   Wikipedia

  • James Fisher (Manitoba politician) — James Fisher (November 6, 1840 ndash;1927) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He may have served as leader of the parliamentary opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for a brief period in the mid 1890s.Born at Glenquaich in… …   Wikipedia

  • James Johnson (Manitoba politician) — James Johnson (November 18, 1855 1929) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1897 to 1915, as a member of the Conservative Party. Johnson was a cabinet minister in the government of Hugh John …   Wikipedia

  • James Collins (Irish politician) — James Collins (30 October 1900 – 1 September 1967) was an Irish politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick West in the 1948 General Election and at each election until his death in 1967. He was succeeded in… …   Wikipedia

  • James Johnson (UK politician) — James Johnson (16 September 1908 ndash; 31 January 1995) was a British Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP).He was born to the family of a Northumberland miner and was educated at Duke s School, Alnwick, and Leeds University. He… …   Wikipedia

  • James Sutherland (Canadian politician) — James Sutherland (July 17 1849 ndash; May 3 1905) was a Canadian politician.Born in Ancaster Township, Canada West, he was a merchant before being elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the riding of Oxford North in a 1880 by election. A… …   Wikipedia

  • James Brown (Canadian politician) — James Brown (October 14 1828 ndash; April 24 1897) was an Ontario businessman and politician. He represented Hastings West in the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative member from 1867 to 1882.He was born in Scotland in 1828 (1826 in some… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”