State Senatorial candidate John Ley reveals text barrage by husband of Sen. Ann Rivers, his opponent in upcoming election


Candidate provides screenshots of late night, profanity-laced tirade that he said included threats to reveal details of legal matter

The race for state senator in the 18th Legislative District got a little more heated today when Republican candidate John Ley posted a report on his campaign website about an exchange he had over the weekend with the husband of incumbent Sen. Ann Rivers. 

John Ley
John Ley

Ley posted screenshots of an email exchange between himself and Fred Rivers that began as a friendly exchange after Fred Rivers informed Ley that he had repaired one of the candidate’s campaign signs that was falling down. The exchange took place on Mon., June 29. On Friday (July 6) morning, Fred Rivers texted Ley again, this time with a much sharper tone. Later that same night and into the next morning, Rivers’ texts launched into a series of profanity- and vulgarity-filled texts as well as comments Ley construed as threats regarding the disclosure of details of Ley’s extended legal battle over claims made against him by the state’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Ley’s fight with DFI began in 2007 and culminated earlier this year when a Clark County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the candidate on his appeal of a 2016 fine issued by the Office of Administrative Hearings. 

“This weekend as we celebrated our nation’s independence, I received some extremely troubling texts from the campaign of our incumbent Senator Ann Rivers, and more specifically, the Senator’s husband Fred Rivers,’’ Ley wrote on his campaign page (electjohnley.com). “In those texts, Rivers unleashes a vulgarity filled text storm tirade that appears completely unhinged. The extremely foul and offensive language includes a direct threat against me, first her constituent, and now her political opponent. I was truly disturbed by what I read.’’

In addition to Ley, Rivers is being challenged in the August primary election by Democrat Rick Bell. Two of the three candidates will advance to the November general election. All three are scheduled to participate in a League of Women Voters candidate forum scheduled for Wednesday night that will be televised on CVTV beginning at 6:30 p.m. 

The text exchange

The text exchange between Fred Rivers and John Ley began as a gesture of goodwill on the part of the senator’s husband. On June 29, Rivers texted Ley the following: “Noticed one of your signs down in Washougal. I fixed it.’’

To which Ley replied: “Thank you! I appreciate your effort and friendship.’’ Ley added two emojis, one a smiley face and the other a thumbs up symbol.

Fred Rivers then followed with: “10-4. From what I see driving around ‘sign etiquette’ very good this year. Normal yard sign attrition/loss which is to be expected and only a few repair jobs so far.’’

According to the screenshots Ley shared Tuesday, that ended the exchange between the two that day. On Friday, at 8:55 a.m., Fred Rivers texted Ley again, this time with a much different tone. He began by saying, “John, I have been thinking about your ‘Friend’ remark.’’ It continues with several reasons why Rivers didn’t consider Ley his friend and concluded with: “So in short don’t count me among your friends. I know who you are.’’

The texts then re-started at 10:57 p.m. Friday night and the last of the series was sent at 12:14 a.m. Saturday. Ley’s screenshots do not include any responses from him, which Fred Rivers appears to confirm in his last comment. “Not surprised you have no response because everything I have expressed is the true.’’ (Editor’s note: spelling is correct on the last word of that text.)

In his report on his website, Ley wrote, “I did not respond. I waited, wanting calmer heads to prevail. Sunday morning at 7:30 AM I sent a text to Senator Rivers. She responded at 7:46 AM. She denied all knowledge of the incident, and demanded that I never contact her again. You can read the entire exchange in the story posted at electjohnley.com.’’

Also on Friday, Ley posted an item on his campaign page about a possible connection between Sen. Rivers’ vote on Senate Bill 6617 and her husband’s knowledge of information Ley shared with the senator about his legal case in emails several years ago. SB 6617, which Sen. Rivers voted in favor of, removed the legislature from Washington’s voter-approved Public Records Act.

“The late-night rant by the Senator’s husband threatened to weaponize emails and communications I had with Senator Rivers while I was her constituent and she was my elected representative,’’ Ley wrote Tuesday. “(Fred) Rivers says the Senator voted to keep those emails and communications secret in an effort to protect me (and other constituents). Yet now, he threatens to release those communications to the public, in some jaded perception that they may harm me or my campaign.

“The language he uses is vulgar, offensive and completely inappropriate,’’ Ley added. “His veiled threats are truly shocking, as he indicates that he has access to those communications and will publicize them. How does the husband of a sitting Senator have access to the Senator’s constituent emails and communications? One would think that Senate ethics rules govern conduct concerning constituent communications, and would most certainly prohibit the publication of them for POLITICAL purposes.’’

Response from Sen. Rivers and Fred Rivers

Sen. Rivers responded to a request for comment from Clark County Today.

Sen. Ann Rivers
Sen. Ann Rivers

“To be clear Fred wasn’t saying hateful things — he was calling out Mr. Ley privately and personally about the type of hate speech used by Mr. Ley’s supporters,’’ Rivers wrote in an email to Clark County Today. “It takes a lot to get my husband mad but Mr. Ley’s misrepresentation of my voting record and the outright bigotry demonstrated by Mr. Ley’s supporters compelled him to speak up.  Not just for me, but for the people in our community who are subjected to reading those comments on social media. My husband made a conscious effort to call these issues out privately; it was Mr. Ley’s choice to take it to the public realm.’’

Sen. Rivers also provided a statement from her husband Fred.

“There’s a reason not enough good people run for office,’’ Fred Rivers stated. “For candidate families, watching the person they love be attacked not for their policy ideas, but gratuitously on the basis of things like misogyny, homophobia, or racism is galling. John surrounds himself with people who feel they can deride others with what amounts to hate speech, bullying, and intimidation.  His silence on his supporters behavior speaks volumes about his character. 

“I don’t speak out much because Ann is the politician in our family,’’ Fred Rivers stated. “But there comes a time when you have to say ‘enough’ and you don’t sit back and let people attack others in your family or community. I’m not apologizing to John because he deserves to be called out for his association with bigots and people who say terrible things about women. I do however owe a huge apology to my fifth grade teacher, Mr Steiner, for failing to use the lessons he taught about proper use of quotes and commas in my texts. If I knew John was going to go on a public screed I’d have made sure people could have more easily read why I was taking him to task.”

Ley told Clark County Today that he did speak with one person about a comment that was made on social media about Sen. Rivers.

Sen. Rivers said she wasn’t aware of the details of the exchange between her husband and Ley and she didn’t plan to get involved.

“They’re grown men and they don’t need me to intervene,’’ Sen. Rivers said. “Given the derogatory things that Mr. Ley supporters say about women I doubt that my intervention would be welcome.

“I remain committed to running a positive campaign based on issues and solutions,’’ the senator said. 

Ley’s legal battle

Ley said he was fully prepared to address his legal battle during his current campaign challenging Rivers’ 18th District senate seat. 

“The Rivers campaign apparently believes I fear a discussion about a decade long battle I had with an out of control state agency. I don’t,’’ Lee wrote Tuesday. “My nightmare battle against a State bureaucracy called the Department of Financial Institutions or DFI, began in 2007 and finally ended this year, 13 years later. Bottom line: I WON! A Clark County Superior Court Judge completely exonerated me. He threw out the $50,000 fine levied against me. Finally, a judge ended what had been a baseless prosecution for offering investment opportunities as part of a company I built and managed in 2006.’’

Ley recently retired as a pilot with Delta Airlines. In 2005, Delta filed for bankruptcy. As part of the bankruptcy proceeding, Ley told Clark County County Today that he lost his pension. He said in order to address what was now “a significant hole in my financial situation,’’ Ley began selling life settlement products in 2006 and continued doing so until 2014.

“A friend and fellow pilot introduced me to the life settlement product in 2006 and the opportunity to start a business was also presented,’’ Ley said. “While not an employee of the parent company, Life Partners, Inc. of Waco, TX, I became what they labeled, a ‘licensee.’ I continued my day job as a pilot for Delta, under significantly reduced wages, etc. while running my side business when I wasn’t flying.’’

Because he was well known among his fellow pilots, 93 percent of Ley’s clients resided outside the state of Washington. 

“They were my primary audience for offering the investment opportunity. These fellow pilots lived all around the country,’’ said Ley, who was one of 12 licensees, plus the parent company, CEO and president who were listed in the DFI’s statement of charges.

Ley stated, and Clark County Judge Daniel Stahnke later confirmed in his ruling earlier this year, that Life Partners’ life settlement product was not deemed to be a “security’’ until December 2017. Had it been deemed a security while Ley was selling the product, it would have been a violation of the Securities Act of Washington. 

Ley said he spent a total of $40,000 on the appeal of his case. Stahnke’s ruling included an order that forced the state to reimburse him $12,010.25 of those costs.

Click to view PDF
Click to view PDF

In his ruling in January of this year, Stahnke wrote: “There is insufficient evidence in the record to support Findings by the ALJ and the OAH and as such they erred as matter of law finding that Ley violated WSSA by recklessly selling Life Settlement products.

“Therefore, the decision of the AJJ and OAH which affirmed DFI’s statement of charges is REVERSED and remanded to vacate the sanction.”

Of the case against him, Ley stated: “No injured parties. None of my clients complained about anything related to my presentation of the business opportunity. The only witnesses the government had were two government bureaucrats. I had five clients who testified that I was extremely truthful and was not misleading.

“No citizen should have to go through the hell I had to endure for over a decade, being pursued by an out-of-control government agency,’’ Ley told Clark County Today. “This is exactly why you have elected representatives who are supposed to go to bat for you, as an average citizen.’’

In 2018, Ley filed to run for the state representative 18th District, Position 2 seat that was later vacated when Liz Pike did not seek reelection. He removed himself from that race and confirmed to Clark County Today his legal battle was an issue in that decision.

“I knew I would not be able to represent the people adequately, while fighting my appeal, and still flying for Delta,’’ he said. “It wouldn’t have been right.’’

In her response to questions from Clark County Today, Sen. Rivers said it is her understanding that Stahnke’s ruling may be appealed.

“Voters have the right to have a thorough understanding of who they’re voting for,’’ Rivers wrote in the email response. “Mr. Ley and his supporters are purposely misrepresenting my voting record while obfuscating his legal problems. As to the judge’s ruling, as I understand it, the Washington State Attorney General is appealing and I will not comment on Mr. Ley’s ongoing legal issues with the court of appeals.’’

Ley posted a video on his campaign website Tuesday detailing his text exchange with Fred Rivers and his DFI legal battle. Here’s a link to that video: https://youtu.be/802YNSiUal0

The candidates

For more information on all three candidates in the race for the 18th District state senate seat, go to each candidate’s campaign website:

Sen. Ann Rivers (Republican): https://www.annrivers.com/

Rick Bell (Democrat): https://citizenbell.com/

John Ley (Republican): https://www.electjohnley.com/
The three candidates are scheduled to appear at a League of Women Voters candidate forum that will be televised by CVTV at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (Comcast channel 23 and 323, https://www.cvtv.org/). Clark County Today will provide coverage of the forum, which will be held in video format only.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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