The claim: The state Republican Party sent out a flier asserting state Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher has put his medical practice on hold; that in his work as a lawyer, he is defending doctors accused of malpractice; and that he supported more than $325 million in new spending this past legislative session.
Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, is running against state Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, for the 26th Legislative District Senate seat, which represents parts of Pierce and Kitsap counties.
The 26th District seat is viewed as crucial for control of the Senate going into the 2014 elections. More than $2.8 million has flowed into the race, fueling attack ads by both sides.
The flier, among other things, states: “Nathan Schlicher is a practicing lawyer and also a physician, though he has put his medical practice on hold for the last several months.”
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It goes on to say Schlicher “in his first six months of office … supported over $325 million in new spending … opposed the budget that would increase education spending by $1 billion without raising taxes” and “as a practicing lawyer, Nathan represents doctors and hospitals accused of malpractice.”
What we found: Half true
Schlicher said it’s inaccurate to say his medical practice is on hold because he typically works six shifts a month as an emergency-room physician at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma when the Legislature is not in session.
Kathy Heddlesten, an administrative assistant for TeamHealth
, confirmed that Schlicher has worked 17 shifts since August and averages around 48 hours a month in the emergency room.
The law firm Schlicher is affiliated with, Johnson, Graffe, Keay, Moniz & Wick, lists him as “a civil-litigation practitioner emphasizing in medical-malpractice defense, health-care law, professional licensing and medical ethics.”
But Schlicher said he is not currently defending doctors and hospitals accused of malpractice and has not had a billable hour with the law firm in years. The lawmaker said he’s available for legal consultation if the firm needs him.
Laura Erickson, an accounting manager at the law firm, said Schlicher had five billable hours in 2009 related to research he did for a medical-malpractice case and that he earned $170 in 2010 for a consultation. He has not received compensation from the firm since then.
In the Legislature, Schlicher did vote for several early budget amendments this past legislative session that did not pass, but would have increased state spending as much as the GOP flier indicates.
And Schlicher, appointed to the state Senate in January to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, did vote against a budget proposal that Senate Republicans argued would increase education funding without increasing taxes. That bill stalled in the House.
A Republican-led majority controls the Senate. Democrats control the House. The two sides were gridlocked for several months before agreeing on a compromise earlier this year.
The GOP flier leaves out context that both Schlicher and Angel voted for a state budget, enacted into law, that increased education spending by $1 billion. The legislation also increased overall state spending by more than $2 billion, compared with the 2011-13 two-year budget.
Overall, we found that the flier incorrectly stated that Schlicher put his medical practice on hold, and that “as a practicing lawyer,” he represents doctors and hospitals accused of malpractice.
Schlicher did vote for legislation that would have increased state spending by more than $325 million and against a proposed no-new tax Senate Republican budget.
However, both Schlicher and Angel ultimately voted for a budget, signed into law, that did significantly increase state spending and included the additional funding for education.
Based on all that, we find the claims to be half true.
Andrew Garber: 360-236-8268 or firstname.lastname@example.org