City investigations have revealed that Spokane mayor James E. West used his city computer to check out online profiles of gay men while traveling on official business, The Spokesman-Review reported Saturday.

The history of the embattled mayor’s computer use was found in files buried deep within a compact disc that City Hall attorneys released to the newspaper this past week. The paper said the information contradicted West’s repeated claims that he did not access gay Web sites during workdays.

Attorneys for West, who faces a December 6 recall election, defended him in a statement released Friday afternoon. They said Web sites the mayor visited while traveling in Washington, D.C., on March 22 and April 5, and in Philadelphia on May 2 were made “after regular business hours, Eastern Standard Time.”

“Mayor West has been up front from the very beginning,” attorneys Bill Etter and Susan Troppmann wrote in a statement e-mailed to the Spokesman-Review. “On May 5, 2005, the mayor stated he visited Web sites but not on city time or at City Hall. West was told, which is consistent with city policy, that he could use the city computer for personal uses when he traveled.”

The city’s Internet access policy allows employees “limited use” of the Internet, but says it should not be used to access or transmit obscene, profane, pornographic, abusive, harassing, discriminatory or threatening information, pictures or representations. Supporters of the recall effort allege that West offered help in obtaining a city internship to an online correspondent that the mayor thought was an 18-year-old high school student. It also says he sent that person a photograph of himself and “raised issues of sex, discussed dating, and urged the person to keep Mayor West’s identity a secret.”

The 18-year-old was actually a computer expert hired by to verify rumors that West was in the closet and using his office for personal gain. The newspaper began publishing a series of articles in May about the mayor’s secret life. West, a longtime Republican state Senate leader and opponent of gay rights, has acknowledged making “errors” in his private life, but said he has been an effective leader for Spokane who should remain in office.

West and his private attorneys did not object to the release of the CD, which contains only a portion of the material from the mayor’s city-owned computer, seized in early May. West is pressing a court fight to prevent release of a second CD, which West’s lawyers have said contains offensive material.

Meanwhile, a young gay man who filed a sexual harassment complaint against West in May has released additional transcripts of their online conversations. Ryan Oelrich, 24, was appointed to the Spokane Human Rights Commission by West, and later complained the mayor harassed him for sex.

In a detailed timeline released Thursday to the newspaper, Oelrich said he was first contacted by RightBi-Guy in August or September of 2003 on Gay.com and later by Cobra82nd, who said he’d changed screen names. Both were computer names used by West. Oelrich was a Gonzaga University student at the time. After learning he was corresponding with West, Oelrich said the mayor promised to help him find a job, offered him a City Hall internship, and continued to pressure him for sex. Oelrich used the online names “GonzagaRy” and “HappyCollegeGuy” in the conversations. During Memorial Day weekend in 2004, Cobra82nd said he’d been working on his house.

Cobra82nd: Now I’m looking for some cuddle bunny to snuggle with. You game?

Happy College Guy: You will never score with me!

Later in the same conversation, Cobra82nd said he was getting a new Lexus convertible.

Cobra82nd: Maybe I’ll have to give you a ride? Maybe give you a lil more.

Cobra82nd said he was buying the car because of a “midlife crisis.”

HappyCollegeGuy: Is it over?

Cobra82nd: No, just starting. Haha. need a sports car and a new mistress you interested in being the latter?

HappyCollegeGuy: hmm, no. but best of luck anyway.

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