Memo to Candidates, Voters and Media: Think CandidateVerification



Updated Feb. 6, 2016 11:40 a.m. –


For a transparent political process to benefit America –candidates, voters and the news media should investigate a nonprofit – CandidateVerification.

“Our mission is to provide free background checks and resume verification services to candidates running for public office in the United States,” according to the nonprofit’s Web site.

So via a search-engine press release from the Seattle-area nonprofit – a nonpartisan organization – invites all candidates to participate in a free background check.

Voters and the media can also use the nonprofit’s site as a resource of background information.

As in business, background checks are an imperative in politics.

Typical example

For example, Washington State Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting) was elected while boasting of a stellar record as a wounded combat veteran as a member of the Marine Corps.

Moreover, he was also the Washington State Campaign Chairman for a presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

But when it was publicized he lied about his military record, he was forced to resign from the two positions in 2016.

“The exaggeration, misrepresentation and outright falsification of candidates’ backgrounds occur far too often in our elections, and the public usually learns of these deceptions long after the votes are cast,” says David Doud, executive director of CandidateVerification.

“Our process seeks to change that, and to bring to the election process a much-needed measure of confidence that candidates actually have the qualifications and experience they claim to have,” he adds.

(Mr. Doud has been personally affected by a candidate who did not undergo a thorough background check. But more on that later along with career lessons you can learn from the formation of CandidateVerification.)

 “Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.”

-John F. Kennedy

“Today, it’d be almost unimaginable to purchase a used car without consulting CARFAX, yet we’ve become accustomed to taking at face value the unverified claims of candidates for public office,” says Ron Dotzauer, a member of CandidateVerification’s board.

“How is it possible that we have greater confidence in the claims of used car sellers than in potential public officials? The public should demand more,” adds Mr. Dotzauer.

Geographical service area

With an eye to expanding nationwide, the nonprofit is very effective in Washington state.

“The group helped over 75 candidates from across the state verify their qualifications for the public offices they sought, and achieved participation of 90 percent of candidates in Spokane, 70 percent of candidates in Yakima, 60 percent of candidates in King County, and traction in Snohomish and Pierce counties,” according to the press release.

“With election season kicking into high gear, the public will be assessing the qualifications of dozens of candidates for public office,” says board member Lisa Macfarlane.

“To eliminate any potential doubt in the voters’ minds about whether they are truly suited to hold public office, we encourage all political candidates in Washington to register with CandidateVerification,” she adds.

The nonprofit has an ambitious plan.

“We started in 2013, are integrated nationally with Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/CandidateVerification, and have published reports for numerous candidates at all levels of government in multiple states,” says Mr. Doud.

The nonprofit’s approach:

CandidateVerification’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)-approved self-authorized background checks include a Multi-State instant criminal check, a check of the National Sex Offender Registry, criminal federal and county search (10-Year Address History), civil federal and county search (10-Year Address History), as well as verification of key resume items such as education, employment, professional credentials, and military service records. CandidateVerification also offers candidates a safe forum from which to disclose prior criminal convictions and other adverse information.

Meantime, CandidateVerification’s history serves as a reminder in career lessons with two of my favorite idioms:

Idiom No. 1 

Things aren’t always as they seem. You can’t always depend on what you read.

Founded in 1891, The Seattle Times is a highly respected Pulitzer Prize winner and is the largest daily newspaper in Washington state. It’s a daily must read.

So a lot of readers paid attention on July 29, 2009, when the venerable newspaper ran this editorial entitled, “The Times recommends: Holland, Albro for Port of Seattle commissioner.

The editorial noted it was a critical election in view of the challenges faced by the port. The Times endorsed a candidate, Rob Holland, over his opponent – none other than Mr. Doud.

Here’s an excerpt:

For Position 3, our choice is Holland, who is labor-backed but not representing exclusively a labor interest. Holland lives in Seattle and is a great-nephew of former Seattle City Councilman Sam Smith. He works at Seaport Energy in the fleet-fuel business, and knows the Port as a customer. Holland stresses that the Port’s mission is “to support trade, and maritime and industrial jobs” and says he would work to keep Seattle competitive.

His principal opponent, David Doud, is a Bellevue real-estate broker whose signature idea is higher rates of return on Port land. Holland’s view is more suited to a public enterprise.

The newspaper’s claim that Mr. Doud’s philosophy wasn’t apropos for the public sector was fallacious thinking because the Port of Seattle correctly touts itself as a major economic engine and creator of jobs.

It proved to be a contentious race.

Then on October 19, 2009, readers saw this Seattle Times headline: “Local News | Port candidates trade barbs over flier.”

An excerpt of the article:

The Doud flier also said Holland has a “history of mismanaging public money,” and reprinted part of a court document directing Holland earlier this year to return money owed from an overpayment of unemployment benefits.

According to documents filed in King County Superior Court, the court ordered Holland in January to pay back $663, which it determined he was overpaid in June 2008. The warrant, filed by the state Employment Security Department, was satisfied in February.


Unfortunately, the paper and subsequently the voters, didn’t notice the red flag about Mr. Holland’s candidacy. Not surprisingly, it was the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Note this headline on February 13, 2013: “Holland resigns from Port position after story on his problems.”

The article explained why Mr. Holland resigned:

His decision comes days after a Seattle Times story detailing the problems of Holland’s three years in public office, including misuse of his Port credit cards, personal financial problems and tense relationships with Port staff and colleagues.

Hence, the moral about Idiom No. 1: Not to embarrass the newspaper, but the whole episode would have been avoided had there been a serious vetting of Mr. Holland in a background check.

Idiom No. 2 

Career obstacles are opportunities for growth. What often appears to be a stumbling block can be a stepping stone.

After the unfortunate episodes involving the misguided Seattle Times editorial and the contentious political campaign, Mr. Doud launched CandidateVerification.

Hence, the moral concerning Idiom No. 2: Mr. Doud expertly turned a lemon into gourmet lemonade.

We’ll all be better off with CandidateVerification.

P.S. My hope is The Seattle Times editorial board members learned a valuable lesson. To reiterate, the Port of Seattle is a major economic engine and creator of jobs.

From the Coach’s Corner, please see these relevant sources:

  • Dozens of public policy articles.
  • Op-Ed articles from Washington Policy Center, an authoritative free-market think tank in Washington state.
  • Current economic forecasts for key data by noted economist Peter Morici, Ph.D, as well as his economic analyses. He’s an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, and five-time winner of the MarketWatch best forecaster award.

“Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.”

-John F. Kennedy

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.