Goldmark breaks campaign vow, takes timber money

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SEATTLE (AP) - Washington State Commission of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has accepted $100,000 in campaign contributions from timber and wood-product companies in the past three years - despite a previous campaign pledge that he would not accept cash from industries that he would regulate, The Seattle Times reports.

When running to become the state’s top logging regulator in 2008, Goldmark said it was “reprehensible” for his opponent Doug Sutherland to accept money from timber harvesters. The Democratic Goldmark defeated Sutherland, the Republican incumbent. Goldmark was re-elected in 2012.

Goldmark says he didn’t sustain his campaign pledge because he is not influenced by money from the timber industry.

“It wasn’t something that I felt was really pivotal to my ability to represent the public and act always in the public interest,” he told The Times (http://tinyurl.com/n9a9kba).

But some environmentalists who supported his campaign say Goldmark has grown too close to timber companies, telling the newspaper they are particularly worried that the state hasn’t done more to restrict logging in landslide-prone areas. Last month a huge landslide destroyed a small community in Oso north of Seattle, killing more than 30 people. There had been some clear-cut logging on the terrain above the slide in 2004.

Goldmark told The Times he will not speculate on what might have caused the mudslide until scientists complete a review. Goldmark’s office touts rule changes made during his time in office, such as action taken by the Forest Practices Board to eliminate a provision that allowed some landowners to avoid scrutiny of sites in unstable areas.

Peter Goldman of the Washington Forest Law Center said Goldmark deceived the environmental community to win its support in 2008.

“We do feel there was a lack of a candor with his commitment to conservation,” Goldman said.

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Information from The Seattle Times: www.seattletimes.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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