Citizen Pursues Recall Petition for Spokane Mayor

Shannon Sullivan had to wash a lot of cars to pay her way to Olympia, where she plans to ask the state Supreme Court to allow her recall petition against Spokane's embattled mayor to proceed.

Mayor James West (search) was accused in newspaper stories earlier this year of offering city jobs to men he met in gay online chat rooms. A hearing on the recall effort was scheduled for Wednesday.

Sullivan, an unemployed mother, and her supporters washed 102 cars, raising enough money to cover plane tickets and modest hotel accommodations for Sullivan and her 9-year-old son, said Jerry Davis, a lawyer representing Sullivan for free.

"She's nervous, but confident," Davis said of Sullivan, who could not be reached for comment.

Sullivan began the recall effort in May, shortly after The Spokesman-Review newspaper published a series of articles about West.

The newspaper hired a computer expert to pose as an 18-year-old man in a chat room on the Web site and reported that in addition to having sexually heated online conversations, West encouraged the young man to apply for an internship at City Hall.

The newspaper also reported that two men allege West sexually abused them decades ago when he was a Boy Scout leader.

West has acknowledged meeting men online for sex, but vehemently denies ever abusing anyone or misusing his office. He has not been charged with any crime, but the FBI (search) is investigating.

Sullivan filed a recall petition on three grounds. Two of those were thrown out by a Superior Court judge, but the petition was allowed to proceed on the remaining contention: that West used his office for personal gain.

The mayor, who has refused numerous calls for his resignation, appealed to the state Supreme Court. If his appeal is rejected, Sullivan and her supporters can begin collecting the 12,600 signatures needed to force a recall election.

West's lawyers, William Etter and Carl Oreskovich, have argued that Sullivan's recall petition is based on innuendo and insinuation, that newspaper articles are not proof of misfeasance, and that the Superior Court judge went too far in rewriting the petition to meet legal requirements.

Etter was not available for comment Tuesday, his office said, and Oreskovich did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Lawyer Mark Hodgson, who will argue in Sullivan's support Wednesday, said Sullivan doesn't need to prove that the allegations against West are true, only that they are sufficient to warrant a recall vote.