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GOP candidate under scrutiny over alleged past delinquent child support

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(The Center Square) – While 28 candidates for governor have filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, only one is currently facing independent expenditures in opposition.

Public records surfacing on past actions of Republican candidate Misipati Semi Bird have roused the ire of former supporter Mike McKee, who has set up a website at Bird-Docs.com to explain his change of heart.

“Semi is a phenomenal speaker and we talk the same language about school boards and the mess that our schools are in,” McKee said last week. “He’s a very knowledgeable guy. But I can’t support him anymore.”

McKee said he has no ties to fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Reichert or the Reichert campaign.

Committees making “independent expenditures” for or against any candidate or issue are required to register and report to the PDC. They are not permitted to communicate or coordinate with a candidate or a candidate’s campaign.

According to the PDC, the opposition website is funded by a $500 donation from the Concerned Taxpayers Accountability Center. The nonprofit corporation was formed and is controlled by Steve Gordon, who publicly supports Reichert for governor.

When contacted, Gordon replied by email, stating, “Claims/docs have been circulating online for months amongst individual researchers and the media. All of it seemed credible, so when I was approached to put it all in one place for convention and primary voters to reference, I agreed to” through the privately donor-funded research nonprofit he founded in 2019.

McKee said he wasn’t bothered at first by the recall vote that removed Bird from the Richland School Board in 2023 or the circumstances surrounding a court martial as a young man for assaulting an NCO.

“It was the liens for delinquent child support,” McKee explained. “I stumbled onto those by accident and didn’t know what to do with that because I’d been defending Semi Bird. And then more problems kept turning up.”

Most troubling to McKee was the contrast between the child support issues and Bird’s personal story of being raised by a strong single mother after his father abandoned the family.

Three liens for a total of $28,877.41 were filed between March 1995 and June 2001, and paid off in October 2001. According to a former regional administrator for Child Support Enforcement, filing liens was a tool used when someone is no longer communicating with the office and they have to play hardball.

According to an emailed response from Norah West, assistant director of the Office of Communications and Government Affairs from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, “Liens are a standard tool used by the Division of Child Support to secure past-due child support payments … however, that tool is not used to collect support on an ongoing monthly basis.”

When asked to comment on the child support documents posted on the Bird-Docs.com website, the Bird campaign emailed a copy of a letter addressed to delegates to the upcoming Washington State Republican Party convention, to be held this Thursday through Saturday in Spokane.

The letter referred to an anonymous email to delegates and described it as “disturbing and slanderous.” The Bird campaign response did not mention the website. Referring to the email, it said “for a Republican campaign to attack another Republican in this manner demonstrates a lack of human decency and civility that is required for the position of governor.”

A copy of the anonymous email was not made available.

Answering questions after a Saturday speech in Republic, Reichert said he was unaware of the website. Reichert emphasized his intention to follow President Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment throughout the campaign as he has in past campaigns.

“I’m in this race to finish,” Reichert said.

Reagan, America’s 40th president, adopted the 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican,” during a period of similar tension within the Republican Party following the 1964 presidential election.

Asked for his advice to voters in an era of easy doxxing, Reichert relied on his experience as a former police officer and recommended looking for original sources and patterns of behavior in conducting research.

In response to a similar request for comment, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Ferguson, the state attorney general, replied in an email “that voters should assess the reliability of all sources and avoid sources that engage in misinformation or disinformation.”

There was no response from the Mark Mullett campaign for governor. Mullet is a Democratic state senator from Issaquah.

McKee said he had about dozen people helping him with the research behind Bird-Docs.com.

“You can spend 3 minutes, 3 hours, or three days on the website and most people come to the same conclusion,” McKee said. “It’s really hard to argue with court documents. The whole thing is an embarrassment to the party. I feel the damage is going to be long lasting.”