May 19, 2024 1:56 pm

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Convention chaos after WSRP attempts to pull gubernatorial endorsement vote

SPOKANE—The Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) candidate committee had a chaotic endorsement process for its statewide gubernatorial candidate at the political organization’s state convention in Spokane on April 19, moving to pull the endorsement vote of candidates Semi Bird and Dave Reichert from the race for Washington State Governor.

gubernatorial endorsement
Scene from the Washington State Republican Convention in Spokane on April 19, 2024, minutes before commencement. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The crowd of nearly 2,000 delegates erupted in boo’s, holding signs up to show their support for Bird as Governor, moving to amend the report’s decision and voting, with more than a two-thirds decision, to return Bird back to party’s potential endorsement. The party had no choice but to oblige.

The party is scheduled to announce their endorsement for Gubernatorial candidate tomorrow, Saturday, April 20.

The decision to pull Bird stemmed from a recent insurgence of controversies in the candidate’s past, and the party determining he was not forthright in his interviews and violated the party’s vetting standards. The explanation was ruled, as immaterial.

The Lynnwood Times spoke to Bird after the fact who shared his thoughts on the party’s report and how he plans to unify the Republican party, who’s demonstration Friday showed they stand divided on Bird’s support.

“When the people come together and unite there is no amount of power and money that can defeat us,” Bird told the Lynnwood Times. “I am simply a vessel for something much greater than who I am as a man…the time is now for we the people to come together.”

Candidate Reichert, on the other hand, withdrew his name for consideration of endorsement for the Gubernatorial candidate, citing the Republican party’s “disarray.”

gubernatorial endorsement

“In the past 24 hours, it has become clear that some in the Washington State Republican Party are in such disarray that they’re considering making no endorsement for governor,” Reichert wrote. “This, after they continually changed the rules, broke rules, and twisted the process to accomplish their desired outcome.”

“I’m not here to fix the party but to fix our broken state,” Reichert continued. “Given these deceptive and dishonest events, I’m withdrawing my name for consideration for the gubernatorial endorsement through this convention process. I am still seeking the endorsement of Republicans statewide and reconfirm my intention to fight for the state as a Republican all the way to November. My focus continues to be on fixing what’s broken and doing what’s right. That begins by defeating Bob Ferguson.”

Semi Bird controversies leading to party pulling endorsement

Republican Washington State gubernatorial candidate Mesipati “Semi” Bird had an uphill battle against rival candidate Dave Reichert after a series of Tri-Cities Observer articles and a website, entitled, have publicly revealed a long controversial history dating back to his military career in the 1980s.

The following is a recap by the Lynnwood Times on those controversies that put into question Bird’s ability to be transparent and temperament to govern, his critics say. The Lynnwood Times reached out to Semi Bird himself several times for comments and an interview, but he did not answer, nor return any of our multiple attempts to address these controversies well before Friday’s Republican convention in Spokane.

The Bird-Docs website targeting Bird’s past transgressions was funded by a Washington State conservative non-profit group called Concerned Taxpayer Accountability. The nonprofit’s listing with the Secretary of State’s office lists a Steve Gordon as Governor, a staunch supporter of Dave Reichert’s campaign.

According to the Public Disclosure Committee (PDC) Gordon donated $2,400 to the Reichert campaign on July 26, 2023.

“I think the story that people are trying to put out about me painting me as some sort of tainted and tarnished, failed man – I think people are seeing just the opposite. They’re seeing someone who was born without civil rights, someone who was a high school dropout, someone who found themselves financially independent, who’s finishing up his Ph.D who finished his Master’s in business administration sum cum laude, someone who came back 40 years ago after people were saying I was court-martialed because I stood up against a racist and requested that court-martial myself because I wanted to make it clear that you cannot call someone the n-word and put hands on him and get away with it,” Semi Bird told the Lynnwood Times. “I don’t become a victim. I become a champion for all those who have gone forgotten, marginalized, vilified, ignored – I represent all of those people and that’s what I think is most important.”

Below are the summary of allegations from the exposé website,

Financial problems 

Bird filed for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy in September of 1999. In addition, he had several missed Child Support payments from 1995 and 2001 adding up to nearly $30 thousand, as confirmed by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Bird satisfied this amount in full back in 2001.

After Bird’s Bankruptcy Discharge in 2000, he had yet another DSHS Lien filed on June 5, 2001.

In 1993 Bird pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor bank larceny charge for laying on a credit application documents by using his father’s name back in 1991 – a felony. According to documents Bird was sentenced to two years of probation, fined $500, and agreed to pay a restitution of $1,963, the Seattle Times first reported.

Felony Gun Theft Charge

On May 14, 1993, Bird was issued a Smith and Wesson 357 from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office. Just two months later the loaded firearm was recovered by the Sunnyside Police Department from Bird’s repossessed car. Police records also state that additional items belonging to the Sheriff’s Office were also located in the vehicle at the time including handcuffs, office keys, and a floatation coat.

Bird retrieved his firearm from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office that August but was terminated from his position as a Reserve Officer from the department the next year.

In 1995 an internal audit by the YCSO found that Bird failed to return his issued service weapon after his termination. The Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office to locate Bird and, after several attempts to retrieve the firearm, was awarded an arrest warrant on February 16, 1995 by the Yakima County Superior Court. 

Six months later Bird was located at a Chevrolet in Pasco. He was arrested and booked in the Yakima jail. He posted bail at $2,000—adjusting for inflation, equivalent to nearly $4,100 in 2024—using bonds and was released. Bird was assigned a Public Defender on September 9, 1996.

All charges were dropped by the YCSOF after Sheriff Blaire located the misplaced revolver on October 24, 1996.

“The firearm was proven misplaced in a mid-1990s residence move and fully reconciled with authorities when returned by another party who’d mistakenly taken the firearm,” said Semi Bird.

Court-Martial for assaulting a non-commissioned officer

On August 23, 1984, Bird was Court-Martialed by the U.S. Marines for “disrespect to a superior NCO and unlawfully striking an NCO.” According to Bird, in a Facebook post, the incident was racially fueled after the non-commissioned officer (NCO) used a racist slur and attempted to assault him. He explained he was simply defending himself, did his punishment, returned to his unit only to be promoted and completed his tour of duty with an honorable discharge.

Bird’s assault landed him in a one-month confinement, hard labor, and a demotion in rank to private.

Bird later reenlisted into the Army National Guard, following the events of 9/11, where he received a Bronze Star for valor and other service medals, according to his service documents.

“I have always learned from my mistakes and have grown from them. Clearly you can see how I have grown and strived to do better in life and in service to my country,” Bird took to social media to say. “At what point in time do we stop vilifying people for their past? Is there no kindness of grace for those who have fallen and picked themselves back up and done better in life?”

Initially Bird wasn’t transparent about his court-martial when running for the Richland School Board Director position, telling the Tri-Cities Observer in an interview back in 2021 that the incident involved his first cousin who shared the same name. The Observer did find another Mesipati Bird living in Hawaii at the time. Bird explained that Mesipati was a common name in Samoa.

Recall from Richland School Board

On August 2, 2023, 56% of voters opted to remove Semi Bird from the Richland School Board in Benton County for making wearing masks optional during the pandemic despite a statewide mandate.

Bird was one of three School Board members voters sided to recall including Kari Williams and Audra Byrd. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled the recall efforts could move forward, with ten approved counts, on February of 2023. According to court documents Bird was consistently told that masks could not be removed.

“Bird was one of three on the board removed by forceful influence from a teacher’s union. This was based on these three actively attempting to scrub Critical Race Theory from courses, strengthen parental rights, and offer mask choice,” said Bird.

Benton County, Washington has voted Republican in every election since 2000. In the last Presidential election voters favored Republican candidate Donald Trump by 58.6% compared to a 37.6% vote for President Joe Biden.

Concerning 911 Calls

The website then criticizes the way Bird interacts with 911 dispatchers when calling to report a car parked on his “private property” playing “loud music.”

Public records requests show that Bird called dispatchers 20 times in a recent 12-month period. His initial call to 911 dispatch appears polite, and cordial enough but subsequent calls to non-emergency dispatch (where he was directed) quickly got out of hand. The Lynnwood Times has the audio recording of the 9-1-1 call.

Bird referred to the individuals, who were predominately hispanic, as “punks down [his] driveway”

Bird called the non-emergency dispatch and asked, “I have firearms, what do I do as a citizen when the police department can’t handle this stuff?”

The dispatcher then tells Bird that she cannot answer a question like that, proceeding to say that she has already dispatched an officer. Bird informs her, based on what she said, that he is going to leave his house and approach the vehicle. The dispatcher then advises against this stating she doesn’t think it wise to put “yourself in harm’s way for a noise complaint call.”

Bird replied that he is a former “Special Forces Green Beret” and is “not in any harm’s way” and that he is “very proficient in protecting himself and [his] family.”

He then asks if the officer dispatched is driving an “invisible car” because he does not see any officer there. The dispatcher informs Bird that her system is showing an officer is in the area although she can’t say exactly where; Bird asks to speak with someone who can.

When a supervisor jumps on the call Bird enters a sort of tirade asking, “is the city giving me the finger and telling me no?”

“You have Captain Chris Lee. You give him my name and I want an answer to this: John Bruce. Give him my name. He’s the Chief of Police in case you’re not aware. I want an answer. What is my Police Department doing giving me the finger and telling me no? We are not going to do a damn thing to help you out citizen, you help yourself out,” said Bird.

PDC Complaints

Bird has been found by the Public Disclosure Commission to have violated, in at least four instances, campaign finance laws RCW42.17A and WAC390.

The alleged violations include failing to timely file his personal financial statement (F1) within two weeks of becoming a candidate, exceeding $5,000 mini contribution limit, failing to report contributions and expenditures as candidate for Governor, failure to timely and accurately disclose in-kind contributions/expenditures related to a May 10 fundraising event, failure to timely and accurately disclose contributions and expenditures, lack of party preference on advertising and over-limit contributions, and failure to disclose personal financial information.

Bird also has a pending complaint for failing to report his debt for Patriot Builders LLC on his F1 financial disclosure filings.

Patriot Builders LLC Judgement

On August 7, 2018, Richard and Robinette Valore entered a contract with Bird’s business, Patriot Builders LLC, to build a brand-new residence in the amount of $966,786 for cost of work and an additional $129,000 for the contractor’s fee.

Construction for this project began in 2018 and continued through 2020 and on October 1, 2020, the Valores moved into their new home.

According to court documents the Valores immediately discovered both major and minor “deficiencies and defects” in their brand-new million-dollar home. Under Washington state law a contractor is required to provide a year of warranty on new construction and Bird did, in fact, make some effort to remedy them over the next six months, the court documents continue.

On April 1, 2021, the Valore’s contracted with an independent home inspection due to the discovery of microbial growth (mold) in the crawl space and attic.

The report was sent to Bird on April 2, 2021. Semi responded with a text stating “I will cease and desist immediately I’ll notify my insurance company and attorney” ending all further communication.

The Valores hired an attorney of their own who sent Bird a letter on April 30, 2021, providing him with formal notice of the claim. Bird never responded to the letter. They then hired contractors to fix the major deficiencies and defects that were part of the original contract and had already been paid to Bird.

As per the contract, the Valores initiated mandatory arbitration proceedings. Bird neither responded nor participated in the arbitration proceedings, court documents state. The arbitration process moved forward and the Valores were issued an Arbitrators Award in the amount of $60,369.39 against Patriot Builders, LLC and Semi Bird personally.

The judgement amount was Entered and Filed with Kittitas Superior Court on April 21, 2022, and went unpaid until November 2023 when Lexington Insurance Company finally settled the claim and issued a check to the Valores in the amount of $70,000.

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