Potato Commission Director Accused of Improper Use of Company Resources
MOSES LAKE, WA – In a surprising and frankly somewhat puzzling turn of events, Washington State Potato Commission Director Chris Voigt has found himself in the midst of a scandal because of his support of U.S. congressional candidate Dan Newhouse. After looking into the matter, Voigt seems to done nothing and yet he is currently being investigated by the Washington State Executive Ethics Board over accusations that he used state tax funded resources to support Newhouse's political run. Allegedly Voigt sent politically themed emails from his Potato Commission account and used a company car to deliver campaign signs.
Tim Kovis, Newhouse's campaign manager characterized the accusations as a pathetic example of “flinging mud everywhere and praying some of it sticks...Chris is a volunteer and the campaign had an understanding with him that he would support Dan with his own time and resources."
Voigt argues that this is exactly what he did. He points out that he could not have even used state resources to aid Newhouse because the Potato Commission is not a state owned enterprise.
“All potato commission assets are owned by the potato growers, not the state,” Voigt said in a statement. “Our building, our computers, our pens and pencils, any intellectual property [are] all owned by the potato growers, not the State of Washington...The potato growers of Washington own the domain name ‘potatoes.com.’ This is not state property, and any e-mails were sent during my personal time.”
As for the company car he allegedly used to deliver campaign materials, Voigt explains that the cars were not purchased with state resources and were owned by the Potato Commission.
“A deduction is taken out of my paycheck every pay period for some personal use of the Potato Commission vehicle,” he said.
The trouble started for Voigt when Dan Newhouse's political opponent Clint Didier released a series of emails Voigt allegedly sent using his Potato Commission email, although it has not been confirmed that these are the same emails which the Ethics Board is investigating Voigt for. Didier's Campaign Manager Larry Stickney wants to go so far as to bring the matter to the attention of the Federal Election Commission.
“We’re consulting with an attorney about it,” he said. “Nationwide, these type of groups have become more politically active … We believe they are out of line.”
According to iFiberOne News, if found to have committed an impropriety, Voigt could face up to a $5,000 fine per violation. If what Voigt says is true however, it would be surprising if this matter is ever allowed to get that far.
Whatever is decided in the end, you can count on AndNowUKnow to bring you the news as it breaks.