by: Alison Grande Updated:
Police investigated a former Bellevue City councilwoman after they said she stole campaign signs for a measure that would prevent additional background checks for gun owners.
Police also submitted information to the Bellevue City Attorney’s Office for a third-degree theft charge against the former city councilwoman, Margot Blacker, after a representative for the pro-gun rights group that owns the signs said he was interested in pursuing charges.
Blacker, 74, was known for her liberal views when she served on the Bellevue City Council from 1989-1997. She was elected to the council after serving as Bellevue planning commissioner and also is a past president of the Bellevue Historical Society, which Blacker helped found.
On Oct. 13, a man called Bellevue police saying she watched a woman stealing a campaign sign from the 2200 block of 140th Avenue Northeast. He provided the license plate for her car and Blacker’s description.
Bellevue police contacted the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Protect Our Gun Rights the day of the theft report. A representative said they would like to pursue charges for the stolen sign, which is valued at $4-$5. Blacker later told police she had taken two signs.
“It’s one thing for an average citizen to do this, but someone who has served in municipal government to be involved in this – you have to sit back and scratch your head and wonder what’s going on here,” said Dave Workman, a gun rights supporter involved with the campaign.
Police tracked Blacker through the license plate and when contacted, Blacker admitted taking the sign, according to a police report.
“Margot stated that she recently had about 15 of her pro I-594 signs stolen and was certain that Bellevue pro I-591-associated personnel stolen them,” a Bellevue officer wrote in the report. Blacker elaborated that she planned to steal 15 signs and return them to the pro-gun rights group.
She told police she hadn’t contacted the group about her plan. Asked how she knew the pro-gun rights group had stolen the pro I-591 signs, Blacker said “she knew nobody else could have done it,” but didn’t elaborate on the alleged theft, according to the report.
Supporters of Initiative 591 said it would protect against gun confiscation without due process, would keep government from collecting personal data and “protects background check uniformity and prevents unwarranted intrusion by the state into temporary firearm loans to friends or in-laws.” Pro I-591 supporters also said the initiative would stop the state from creating a universal gun registry that could enable future confiscation.
Many opponents of I-591 have supported Initiative 594 which would require background checks for every gun purchased in Washington, whether at a gun show, online, or through a private party. That’s stricter than the national standard.
In April, a poll showed Washington voters support both 591 and 594 – and if both pass it could create a confusing situation in Washington.
The Washington Attorney General’s office told KIRO 7 that of both pass, a court might give effect to the measure that receives more "yes" votes than the other one.
A Bellevue officer met with Blacker at her home and she returned two pro-I-591 signs she said she’d taken. The officer returned the signs to the pro-gun rights group, where a representative said he was interested in pursuing charges.
Bellevue police closed the case and forwarded it to the City Attorney’s Office on Oct. 17.