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June 25, 2010 at 9:50 AM

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Rossi's final real estate talk canceled

Posted by Jim Brunner

Leery of running afoul of campaign-finance rules, organizers of a series of real estate seminars featuring Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi canceled the final one this week.

Rossi had been mocked by Democrats for participating in the seminars, which included advice on buying waterfront homes at foreclosure auctions.

Some observers had questioned why Rossi continued to give the talks after declaring for the Senate race. Rossi said he was merely honoring a contract signed last year before he knew he was running.

But the publicity finally spooked the seminar organizers, who decided to call off a final Rossi seminar in Bellevue.

Steven Marshall, a partner at Kirkland's Cobalt Mortgage, said organizers had grown nervous that marketing for the events could be viewed as political contributions or otherwise run afoul of campaign laws.

"If we sent out something with a Dino picture in it, could it be interpreted as marketing Dino in the middle of a campaign?" Marshall said.

Marshall said he did not believe the seminars had ever crossed that line -- Rossi's talks were about the general state of the real estate market and not political.

But in an abundance of caution, and to avoid the negative swirl that had developed around the seminars, Marshall said it was best to cancel. In any case, the final event had never been advertised or marketed, he said.

Marshall would not reveal how much Rossi had been paid for the seminars, citing confidentiality. But he said Rossi could have gotten out of them after declaring his Senate bid.

"If he had called me up and said 'I want out of this,' we would have let him out instantly," Marshall said.

Marshall was troubled by the way Rossi critics had spun the seminars as sinister events.

Investors who buy foreclosed properties keep the housing market from getting worse for everyone, he noted.

"If investors weren't out buying homes right now, our market would collapse even more, more people would lose their homes," said Marshall.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

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Covers the Eastside.

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Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

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Kyung Song
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