Retiring State Auditor Brian Sonntag has nice things to say about the men vying to replace him, but he has no intention of endorsing any of them, he said, even if a new television ad makes it look like he already has.
State Rep. Troy Kelley, D-Lakewood, recently began airing a television ad that could be construed as an endorsement from Sonntag, a popular Democrat who has held the office since 1992.
Kelley’s campaign, citing technical difficulties, would not provide a copy of the ad, only a script and description of the visuals. The description matches that provided by another candidate, who called the ad “deliberately misleading.”
Kelley’s campaign manger, Matt Miller, said the ad shows a photo of Sonntag and Kelley, accompanied by the words “He’s the independent voice we need.” A date printed at the bottom right corner of the photo is the only indication that the words were spoken two years ago, when Kelley was running for re-election to the legislature.
State Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, who also is running for auditor, said the ad misleads voters into thinking Sonntag has endorsed his opponent.
“Heck, Brian said something similar about me ten years ago, but I am not going to peddle it today,” Miloscia wrote in an e-mail to The Seattle Times.
Sonntag said Kelley’s campaign asked him if it was okay to use the quote, which previously appeared as part of a longer statement in a voter’s guide.
“I told them to make sure it’s in context in some fashion so it’s clear when I said it,’’ Sonntag said. “I suppose to somebody, it could look misleading, but that’s part of politics, too.”
Sonntag said he’d gotten some calls and emails from people complaining about the ads. But he said had no interest or intention of policing campaign materials to make sure his statements were properly represented.
“I don’t want to make it seem like I’m endorsing anybody, or that I’m running away from them either, or being critical. I said what I said, and it’s up to them to use it in their campaigns and police each other,’’ he said.