Republican Todd Mielke: Tobacco Lobbyist Turned Politician
What would happen to our communities if we elected a tobacco lobbyist to the Spokane County Commission? What harm would he cause? How much tax payer money would he waste? We don’t have to wonder. All we need to do is take a look at the career of Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke.
In his early political career, Todd Mielke was a legislative aid to scandal plagued Republican Jim West of Spokane. It was then that he learned the tricks of the political trade. Mielke was later elected to the Washington State House of Representatives and eventually named Chair of the House Republican Caucus.
Mielke was powerful in Olympia, and he could have used that power for good. However, one of his last acts in the State Legislature in 1995 was to gut children’s healthcare legislation against the wishes of both Democrats and some Republicans.
Todd Mielke Turned Tobacco Lobbyist
Mielke retired from the Washington State Legislature in 1995. He then cashed in on his power to become a highly paid lobbyist for big pharmaceutical companies and the tobacco industry, advancing their out of state interests in Olympia. Both Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds had already donated tobacco money to Todd Mielke’s campaigns for the State Legislature in the late 80s and early 90s in the sum of $2,200.
Todd Mielke has been trying to distance himself from the tobacco industry ever since. Can you blame him? The tobacco industry has poisoned millions of Americans and disfigured and hurt the health of even more. They have been caught many times trying to make cigarettes and other tobacco products more addictive and marketing tobacco to our country’s youth.
Who would want to be publicly associated with the tobacco industry? No one would. Who would want privately to make a ton of money pushing their interests in Olympia? Todd Mielke.
Mielke claims that he was hired as a lobbyist in Olympia by the tobacco industry to insure that they complied with a settlement case with the State of Washington. However, that is simply not the kind of work that lobbyists are hired to do.
Lobbyist are hired guns that unabashedly push their employer’s agenda, and tobacco reform activists agree that Mr. Mielke was hired to do exactly that.
Todd Mielke and Pacific Communications Strategies, Inc. (Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, and Tobacco Institute) have actively fought tobacco control legislation, participated in the complaints against ASSIST, and lobbied for a decrease in tobacco taxes. –Nixon, Meredith L., and Stanton A. Glantz (2001)
Todd Mielke Turned Politician Again
After a brief dalliance with a run for a U.S. Congressional seat in 2004 that was won by Cathy McMorris, Todd Mielke turned his attention to local public office. He ran and was then elected Spokane County Commissioner with the support of more special interests. He has consistently sided with developers over neighborhoods, and has been found himself embroiled in scandal after scandal. Mielke has wasted millions in tax dollars.
* He charged you thousands of your tax dollars on travel to Seattle and Washington D.C. lobbying for the Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) and big developers and against wards, against small business and neighborhoods
* He spent millions to buy and restore a polluted, run down raceway in the county that continues to lose thousands every year and will cost millions more to clean up in years to come.
* He wrote and lobbied for legislation to weaken the road closure law so he could give your public roads to developers.
* He voted to cover up a 3/4 of a million dollar error in the Utility Department.
* He voted to reduce the tax on gambling establishments who donated to his campaign.
* He voted against the STEP project that would bring 5,000 new jobs to Spokane County at the urging of these same card casinos.
* He voted to allow a gravel pit in the middle of the Four Mounds Neighborhood.
* He lobbied for and succeeded in eliminating the Boundary Review Board.
* He cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars by voting for illegal amendments to the Growth Management Act which had to be defended in court and overturned.
* He proposed and lobbied for a bill at the state level that would make it close to impossible for citizens to challenge illegal decisions by commissioners on land use changes.
* He wasted nearly 1/2 million dollars to cover up the illegal hire of Phil Harris’ third son. County paid expensive outside law firm to battle the case all the way to the WA. State Supreme Court where they lost and had to pay out over $400,000 dollars.
* He voted to give away over 4 million dollars to outside agencies (most to his old employers at the Spokane Chamber of Commerce/EDC) during his 71/2 years as “your” county commissioner.
Lynda V. Mapes. 1995. Legislature Dismantles Health Reform Lowry, Lawmakers Back Senate Bill That Kills Key Parts Of 1993 Law. April 15, 1995. http://www.spokesman.com/stories/1995/apr/15/legislature-dismantles-health-reform-lowry/
Tobacco Control Archives | UCSF Library http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ows16b00
Nixon, Meredith L., and Stanton A. Glantz (2001). Tobacco Industry Political Activity and Tobacco Control Policy Making in Washington: 1996-2000. Institute for Health Policy Studies. University of California, San Francisco.
Gotmielkegottrouble http://www.gotmielkegottrouble.com/ Accessed October 11, 2012.
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