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
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
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,
"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.