April 20, 2024 3:37 am

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Mary Anderson speaks out against political smear campaign

LYNNWOOD, Wash., October 17, 2023—Snohomish County Superior Court candidate for judge, Mary Anderson, hits former Lynnwood City Council Candidate and Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, Rosamaria Graziani, with a Cease-and-Desist letter for allegedly spreading lies to intentionally defame her character ahead of a contentious judicial race.

Anderson conveyed her disappointment that as a person running on her merits is being “smeared” and “belittled” by someone at the detriment of the democratic process.

mary anderson
Mary Anderson

“This is just a complete distraction,” Anderson told the Lynnwood Times. “I need to be focused on meeting voters and inspiring voters to go out there and vote for the best person for the position. It is sad for me as a trial attorney, with my good reputation…I have a stellar reputation…this type of negative campaigning for the benefit of one person to the detriment of myself is devastating.”

Research reveals that Graziani, who is also a member of the Democratic Endorsement Committee for both the Snohomish County Democratic Committee and the 32nd Legislative Democrats, is actively leading an effort to rescind endorsements of Anderson. A Special Meeting by the Snohomish County Democratic Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, October 17, to vote on the matter.

An investigation by the 32 Legislative Democrats found Graziani’s allegations against Anderson failed to warrant its rescindment of its endorsement against Anderson. The Democratic Legislative Districts parties of the 21st and 44th also rejected attempts to rescind their endorsements of Anderson. The 38th Legislative District of the Democratic Party did rescind its endorsement of Anderson in a 15-1 vote.

Anderson, an Afro-Latina who is endorsed by both the Snohomish County Democratic Committee and the Snohomish County Republican Party, is not letting the tactics by Graziani impact her spirits. She is actively meeting with voters and hosting events throughout Snohomish County.

“The judiciary needs a fresh perspective and not the same-ole-same-ole,” Anderson said. “This is Snohomish County; this is my home. I make a conscience decision to make sure to reach and talk with everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have an ‘R’ behind your name or a ‘D;’ I am not about division, I am about including everyone.”

The potential legal action against Graziani stemmed from a video she posted on her personal Facebook Page alleging that Anderson “took food from low-income families” and “children.”

mary anderson
Snapshot of the now removed video posted sometime near October 12, 2023, alleging that Mary Anderson mistreated volunteers on July 13, 2023. SOURCE: Rosamaria Graziani’s Facebook page.

The video shows a man whose face is covered, alleging that he and others “worked” for the Mary Anderson campaign and during those four hours, she was “very disrespectful.” Graziani confirmed that the video was taken on a separate day after the incident and that there is no video of the incident in question.

A voice in the video, later confirmed to be that of Graziani, asks the man, “How did she [Anderson] treat Rosamaria?” To which the man responded, “She was quite disrespectful when Rosamaria went to talk to her about it.”

The man speaking in the video, who the Lynnwood Times cannot confirm attended the envelope stuffing event, volunteers for the Diversity Council of Snohomish County, which Graziani confirmed with the Lynnwood Times for which she is President and that the group represents over 500 local families through her nonprofit, Academia Latina. She confirmed with the Lynnwood Times that the Diversity Council of Snohomish County is not registered with the PDC nor is affiliated with any government agency.

rosamaria graziani
Rosamaria Graziani

“It is unconscionable that a person running for Superior Court judge resorts to a defamation lawsuit for something so, basically, trivial,” Graziani told the Lynnwood Times. “That is an incredible waste of judicial resources. That, in itself, disqualifies her to be honest.”

After interviewing both Anderson and Graziani, the Lynnwood Times has confirmed that the incident occurred on July 16, 2023, at the home of Mary Anderson. Volunteers from both Graziani (five) and Anderson (eight people) were there from 9 a.m. to approximately 10 p.m., cycling in as teams to help stuff thousands of envelopes with letters encouraging voters to support Anderson. Food was provided in the afternoon by Anderson for the volunteers – five large Costco pizzas, cookies, muffins, and sodas.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. two of Graziani’s volunteers, who arrived at 7:30 p.m. that evening, proceeded to pack up and leave. In preparing to leave, they attempted to take a whole pizza pie, along with all the cookies and muffins. Anderson shared that the remaining food is to be shared with the remaining volunteers.

According to Anderson, the remaining pizza was then divided amongst the remaining volunteers. All the remaining muffins and cookies the two departing volunteers and their two children wanted, they received. She told the Lynnwood Times that each departing volunteer received four slices of pizza.

Graziani refuted this claim, telling the Lynnwood Times that Anderson “grabbed” the pizza and the cookies from the mouths of children.

“We demand from our electeds is human decency, and there-and-then, I saw she has no human decency,” Graziani told the Lynnwood Times.

Graziani added, “I am a community mother…I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Back in May of this year, Graziani donated $1,000 to the Mary Anderson campaign. Now, she told the Lynnwood Times, she supports Anderson’s opponent Patrick Moriarty.

When asked why she released the video almost three months after the incident at the home of Mary Anderson and only weeks prior to the General Election, Graziani said she was waiting for an apology.

“I was hoping it was a misunderstanding, sometimes you have a bad day,” Graziani told the Lynnwood Times.

Graziani agreed to delete the video from her social media account, which the Lynnwood Times has confirmed is now removed.

“I have an obligation for myself and my reputation for what I have built in Snohomish County,” Anderson said when asked why send Graziani the Cease-and-Desist letter. “I am not going to allow anyone to smear my good name through the mud. This was a legal action that I have every right to take when someone is misleading the public about my character.”

Previous lawsuit against Graziani for libel and defamation

This isn’t the first legal action against Graziani by a political candidate involving alleged libel and defamation.

“I lost almost $20,000 when Julieta sued me,” Graziani said told the Lynnwood Times.

On November 5, 2019, Election Day, Graziani was served with a lawsuit from then-candidate Lynnwood City Council Vice President Julieta Altamirano-Crosby for libel and defamation.

Weeks earlier, around October 18, 2019, fliers from former Lynnwood City Council Candidate Rosamaria Graziani with statements opposing Julieta Altamirano-Crosby were being left at houses along with other candidates’ literature. Graziani previously ran for Lynnwood City Council during the primary against Altamirano-Crosby but lost. Former chair of the 32nd Republican Party, David “Doc” Schirle, and Altamirano-Crosby advanced to the General Election that year.

Graziani, agreed to help Schirle in his effort to defeat Altamirano-Crosby by distributing his campaign literature. She then affixed her campaign related material to Schirle’s and others without their knowledge nor consent.

Rosamaria Graziani
Picture of the flier Rosamaria Graziani included in campaign literature of David Schirle and George Hurst without their approval. SOURCE: Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

 “It has come to my attention that a flier was created that had negative comments and information about a candidate for Lynnwood City Council. This is my opponent.  I had no knowledge or part in making this flier,” Schirle told the Lynnwood Times when the story originally broke in 2019. “I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech, but I am adamantly opposed to involving others without their approval. I do not condone negative campaign tactics or rhetoric.”

The tactic used by Graziani was also criticized by her friend, Lynnwood City Councilman George Hurst, who supported Schirle at that time.

 “It has come to my attention that there is a flier being distributed that attacks a council candidate and that flier has my name on it,” Hurst told the Lynnwood Times when the story originally broke in 2019. “I repudiate this flier and any implication that I had any part in endorsing this negative ad. We can all disagree on issues but personal attacks like this cannot be tolerated.”

A complaint filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission followed, alleging Graziani violated RCW 42.17A.335 for political advertising that contains false statements constituting libel or defamation. The PDC dismissed the cased in February of 2020 stating, it “does not amount to a violation warranting further investigation.”

According to the pamphlet by Graziani, she accused Altamirano-Crosby of being a “carpet bagger” and having an unrecognized doctoral degree, all of which were proven to be untrue in a Lynnwood Times investigation with assistance from the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office.

Back in May of that year, a voter registration challenge was filed with the Snohomish County Auditor’s office by then Lynnwood City Council candidate Rosamaria Graziani against Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, an opponent for the District 5 council seat. The challenge was dismissed by the Snohomish County Auditor’s office on grounds that it was incomplete and did not support factual allegations.

Rosamaria Graziani
Rosamaria Graziani on the campaign trail during her run for Lynnwood City Council Position 5 in 2019. SOURCE: Rosamaria Graziani’s Facebook page.

During public comments at a Lynnwood City Council Business Meeting on September 9, 2019, Graziani demanded her former opponent, Altamirano-Crosby, drop out of the race insinuating that Altamirano-Crosby is a communist.

“These dirty tactics are only heard of under totalitarian governments,” Graziani told the Lynnwood Times. “Crosby must have picked up this kind of tactics while she lived in Havana… She studied a PhD in Communications under a regime that has a media monopoly for their propaganda and infamously tramples on political freedoms and human rights.”

Graziani added, “At this point, I want her to drop out of the race. She does not deserve the confidence of the Lynnwood voters. I do not want communist tactics in our city.”

Altamirano-Crosby, over a year later, dropped her lawsuit against Graziani.

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