Gov. Jay Inslee did the right thing in vetoing SB6617, which exempts the Legislature from
the Public Records Act.
But, as it turns out, he doesn’t deserve all the accolades he’s receiving. In fact, he was complicit.
In his own press statement issued last night announcing the veto was this sentence:
“Though I expressed concerns about the outline of the bill, I did tell legislators I would let the bill become law if they delivered it with enough votes to override a veto.” (Emphasis added.)
So much for the principal that Legislators should be open and transparent about public records.
“The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” Inslee stated. “Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure. I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.”
Yet Inslee nevertheless was willing to let the bill become law without a whimper. Inslee told MSNBC that “I can’t” veto the bill because it was approved with a veto-proof majority. Of course, he could. What he didn’t say was he had struck a deal with the legislators.
This came a short time after he stood up to President Trump on national TV. He wasn’t willing to stand up to the legislators.
The public knew better. They inundated Inslee’s office with more than 12,000 emails and more than 6,300 phone calls protesting this outrageous bill and the secret way in which it was written and adopted.
Legislators also got an earful. They sent letters to Inslee asking him to veto the bill so they could “start over.”
Inslee credited his veto to the legislators’ request, not the peoples’ response.
Inslee’s hesitation on national TV, his refusal to pledge to veto the bill over several days, his pledge to let the bill become law and his reasons for the veto hardly covered himself in glory.