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ELECTION 2002: WASHINGTON
The Z Files: Far Right Wingnut in the Hot Seat
October 3, 2002
By John M. Pickett

Washington State Senator Joe Zarelli, far right wingnut trying to unseat Democratic Representative Brian Baird from Washington's 3rd Congressional District, has found himself in the hot seat . . . again.

First, a little background. Last year Mr. Z lost his $85,000 a year job as a regional security manager for Ipsa International, a California based security consulting firm. He decided to file for unemployment insurance. Nothing wrong there.

Unfortunately, the Z man neglected to mention that he had another job which paid him $32,801 per year - that of State Senator. To be fair, he says that he told them several different times that he was a State Senator. I guess they didn't believe him. Frankly, we find it hard to believe, too.

However, when Cheatin' Joe filed his weekly claims, he did not report his Senate income of about $630 a week. He also affirmed in those claims that that he was available for and actively seeking work -- even while the legislature was in session!

Joe claims that he thought he only had to report income from jobs like that from which he had been let go. He apparently didn't read the "Unemployment Claims Kit" which made all of these responsibilities crystal clear. I guess its better to plead stupidity than larceny. Can you spell 'f-r-a-u-d?'

Now the State of Washington wants the money back. A decision has not yet been made on criminal prosecution

Our stumbling candidate also forgot to mention the unemployment income in his official filings with Washington's Public Disclosure Commission -- who are none too happy with him either. The PDC wants him to file new financial reports reflecting the unemployment pay.

There is currently no word from the IRS.

When all of this was uncovered by an AP reporter, Joe found himself in more hot water than he had been in back in the Navy when he was arrested for driving on a suspended license and was caught with cocaine . . . or when he was found to have continued to collect married sailor's benefits 22 months after his first wife divorced him (he claimed that didn't know about the divorce.)

When Mr. Forgetful was dragged kicking and screaming from the closet, he first blamed his opponent. He self righteously maintained that his unemployment claims records were confidential and railed against the Employment Security people for leaking them, charging that someone in his opponent's campaign had tipped off the press.

Perhaps they had used a private eye from his former employer.

Zed then tried to use the episode to highlight a campaign issue: tough times. Tough, indeed.

Joe claimed his situation was similar to other "breadwinners" in southwest Washington. He conveniently overlooked the fact that most of those "breadwinners" are able to make it on considerably less than $32,801 dollars a year (without lying, cheating, or stealing.)

"We were stretched thin in these tough economic times," he told reporters. "I will not bury my head in shame. I will not hide from loving my family" It was for his family that he "decided to eat a little slice of humble pie"

Sounds more like plum pudding.

But never underestimate the ability of those on the far right to overlook their own moral lapses, criminal behavior, and sheer stupidity. All the while, Joe and wife number 2 were selling Bibles from their bookstore. But maybe he didn't read that one, either.

Better check those books, Mr. Z -- they seem to be decidedly short on commandments.

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