Shame on You, Ozzie

Lies, Sponsors, and Attack Ads

Ozzie Knezovich, the Sheriff of Spokane County, has signed on with local Republican business interests to offer fearmongering, negative sound bites in place of reason. Shame on Ozzie. 

Here’s a link to Ozzie’s scurrilous attack ad:

The substance of Ozzie’s ad is a lie which quickly unravels on the screen with the aid of the pause button. Ozzie’s claim is that Zack Zappone has “signed a pledge” to “Defund the Police”. The ad raises the spector of chaos with dramatic music, hyperbolic narrative and a video clip of burning cars. At 17 seconds the supposedly incriminating evidence is displayed in the ad—flashed for three seconds. Pause on that incriminating evidence. The display is Zack Zappone’s name (not a signature) under a point number “5 Redirect police department funding to community-based organizations” with a reference to the Seattle police department. The broader context of that fragmentally displayed statement is seen here and makes perfect sense under calm consideration:

  1. De-militarize the police.
  2. Further restrict the use of excessive or deadly force by police.
  3. Increase accountability and transparency in police union contracts.
  4. Give subpoena and other investigative powers to independent oversight boards.
  5. Redirect police department funding to community-based alternatives.

Nowhere in the supposedly incriminating document displayed for three seconds or on the webpage from which it came does one find “Defund the Police”. The Republican propaganda machine has seized on that unfortunate phrase (much like it did with the more obscure phrase “Critical Race Theory”), re-defined into something evil and worrisome, and held it up as an object to be viscerally and irrationally feared. 

Who is putting up the money for Ozzie’s ad? The legally required notice (shown for 4 seconds at the end of the ad at the bottom of the screen) spells it out, but only for those able to ignore the uncomplimentary photo of the subject of the attack, the dire-sounding voiceover, and the dramatic music. The sponsors want the viewer to concentrate on the emotional drama, not on their identities or motivations. They would much rather you were unaware that wealthy Spokane developers and builders (and Washington Trust Bank) are funding this nasty, misleading rubbish. 

Ozzie’s attack ad is one of those “independent expenditures” by local interests hiding behind the name “Spokane Good Government Alliance”. The top five contributors to the SGGA are the Spokane Home Builders Association PAC , Larry Stone, Pearson Packaging, Pyrotek, and Washington Trust Bank. All ought to be shamed and avoided for supporting Ozzie’s ad. Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision declaring money as free speech, the donors to these PACs are limited only by their willingness to spend their wealth to further their financial interests. Mr. Stone, the developer, for example, kicked in $50,000 to the Spokane Good Government Alliance. (In contrast, direct contributions to a candidate’s campaign are limited to $1000 by Washington State law.) Thanks to the Republican stacked Supreme Court, these “independent” PACs have deep pockets. 

The Spokane Good Governance Alliance has spent $51,143.44 on attack ads and mailers against Spokane City Council candidate Zack Zappone and and another $17,776.75 against Naghmana Sherazi. In fact, all the “independent” attacks against Zappone and Sherazi are funded by this “Alliance”. All of this money was paid out to two far away firms, one in Phoenix, Arizona, and the other in Alexandria, Virginia. Not a penny was spent into the Spokane economy. (This information freely available on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website, 

Attack ads focusing on fear have been a Republican campaign staple for decades. (Think Willie Horton [1988] and the Swift Boat [2004] attack campaigns.) 

I cannot recall the source, but I was once told that Ozzie’s response to a question about why he used attack ads was, “Because they work.” It is time to call out the people who make and fund such ads, shame them, understand their motives, and recognize that it is in the best interest of the majority of voters to see these ads as an inverse indicator.

If Zack Zappone or Naghmana Sherazi appears on your ballot, fill in their oval today and turn it in to one of the dropboxes by 8PM tomorrow, Tuesday, November 2. 

When Ozzie Knezovich next runs for office be sure to remember the disgusting tactics to which he willingly stoops for political gain. (He says he is not running again for sheriff.)

Keep to the high ground,