Olsen distributes illegal flier once again, complains of media coverage

Republican candidate for the 23rd District James M. Olsen has once again sent out a political flier that state officials have said violates state and federal laws for its use of the state seal of Washington and the Coast Guard Reserve seal.

The illegal political campaign flier was distributed in Friday editions of the Islander, a free publication of the Bremerton-based Kitsap Sun that is mailed to Bainbridge Island residents.

The latest distribution came after a warning to stop from the Washington Secretary of State's office and an admission from Olsen that the flier was a mistake.

The direct warning from the state came on Oct. 17, when Patrick McDonald, assistant to the Secretary of State, told Olsen to remove the state seal from his campaign fliers because it violated state law.

Even so, Olsen has had the troublesome fliers distributed multiple times since he was warned. Some of the fliers sent out after the warning had words on the state seal and the Coast Guard Reserve seal apparently blackened out with a Sharpie marker.

That wasn't enough to fit within the law, according to attorneys for the state. The Secretary of State's office has said any use of the state seal in political campaigning is illegal, even if the emblem is altered.

The flier continued to be in wide distribution late last week. An unaltered version of the Olsen flier was inserted into the Oct. 26 edition of the Kitsap Sun publication, the Islander.

Ironically, in a news story in the same edition of the newspaper, Olsen is reported to have said "he had destroyed the file and all copies" of the flier.

Olsen has not responded to repeated requests from the Review for comment in the past week.

He did, however, send an email to the Review on Oct. 27 to complain about news coverage of the flier.

"Rather than talking about income tax, gay marriage, trickle-down government and failure upon failure, local editors want to talk about the War on Seals. Let's get real," Olsen wrote.

Olsen is running for a second time for the Position 2, District 23 seat in the state House of Representatives. He is challenging incumbent Democrat Drew Hansen, who is also a Bainbridge Island resident.

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