20 August 1992 Postal probe conducted/p>

By JULlE E. ANOERSON Columbia Basin bureau
The Wenatchee World
  

OLYMPIA – An investigation by post masters, state officials and former political hopefuls has failed to explain why filing forms mailed by three Columbia Basin candidates failed to arrive at the Secretary of State’s Office before the July 31 filing deadline.

Would-be U.S. Senate candidate Mohammad Said, Ephrata, a Democrat, mailed a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office this week demanding his name be put on the ballot for the Sept. 19 primary.

Said’s attorney Nels Hansen, Ephrata, said if the request is not gratified a suit will be filed in Superior Court in Olympia. “It seems if the state is going to take and hold the mail for five days, they are going to have to do something to remedy that,” Hansen said.

Olympia Postmaster Ron Kusunose said it is nearly impossible to track the course of a letter through the U.S. mail system.

“There are millions of pieces of mail in this system at any one time,” he said.

Kusunose said he is continuing to investigate the matter and is in the process of obtaining copies of the letters to examine the postmark and the addresses. “We can apologize if we were to blame, but we really can’t do anything about it,” he said. “It’s nothing we are taking lightly though. We are concerned about it.

“We want to find out what happened to the mail as much as anyone else does.”

Republican LeRoy Allison, a Warden farmer, has decided to wait two years to seek a House seat for the 13th Legislative District, but he said he is still investigating why his candidate form arrived five days after it was postmarked.

Republican State Senate candidate Harold Hochstatter, Moses Lake, was able to file his form before the deadline after discovering his form was not received. AII the candidates mailed their filing forms and fees from post offices in the Basin on July 27.

Gary McIntosh, elections director at the Secretary of State’s Office said mail received to state offices is first handled through the Consolidated Mail Service and delivered the same day it is received.

McIntosh said while the matter was investigated, the forms were received late and nothing can be done to add new candidates.

“We are just not empowered to do that,” he said. “I suppose a judge could order us.”

Allison said his letter was not mailed to a state office but instead addressed to the Republican Caucus Headquarters for hand delivery.

“My letter got (to the headquarters) on Monday,” he said, adding the office did not contact him the week before. “It was a busy week for them, but it was unfortunate for me.”

Warden postmaster Pete Staudenraus said mail usually takes two to three days to reach Olympia, but he added that changes in post office box numbers may have caused Allison’s letter to be delivered to a state office accidentally.

Said said he has suffered a significant financial loss from his campaigning and more than anything would like to know what happened.

“I would at least like to get to the bottom of the problem,” he said. “Why doesn’t the state honor the postmark on letter? Even the IRS does.”