It what seems a regular occurrence, Democrats in Olympia are trying to circumvent government transparency, to hide what they are scheming behind closed doors. You would have thought the Democrats would have learned their lesson after the shellacking they experienced at the hands of the press when they tried to pass legislation (Senate Bill 6617) exempting themselves from the prying eyes of the public in 2017, but apparently not.
Even though he normally ignores the press until it’s time to launch a new green initiative, Democrat Governor Jay Inslee chickened out after the public flogging back in 2017, and reneged on his promise to sign Senate Bill 6617, vetoing the bill at the last minute.
Democratic “leaders” House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig are using a newly discovered secrecy clause’ to redact and hide legislative records from the public and the press. Claiming a completely fabricated “constitutional legislative privilege” from Article II Section 17 of the state Constitution allows them to censor records, Democrats are, as usual, stretching the limits of truth. The claim is completely bogus, since Section 17 only protects legislators from civil prosecution for what they say and does not give them the authority to decide what the public can and cannot see.
Seemingly for once, Shift and the Seattle Times agree. This interpretation is an overreach and misinterpretation of the state constitution at a whole new level. Since the Democrats brought us the ”no chasing bad guys law”, should we be surprised?
To make matters worse, it appears that Sen. Billig and Rep. Jinkins are also choosing to hide other legislators’ emails when they think it might hurt the Democrat cause. Crosscut is reporting that Democrat Senator Emily Randall and Democrat Senator Yasmin Trudeau said they have had emails censored, and that in at least one case Billig did the censoring. Note that its only Democrats that are censoring emails.
This is the normal modus operandi for the Democrats. If they can operate out of the public spotlight, they will. Whether its union labor negotiations taking more of your money, legislative backroom deals, or just embarrassing emails they send each other, it makes no difference to the liberals. Hide, deny, and when all else fails, start pointing fingers.
When challenged on his overactive black sharpie pen, Sen. Billig cited ongoing lawsuits to hide his malfeasance and limit his comments. Claiming this new privilege was court ordered, Sen. Billig says the Democrats are just following the law, as they always do (unless its inconvenient).
Even Governor Inslee’s office weighed in, denying that he knows anything and attempting an old Jedi mind trick – “These are not the records you are looking for.”
Not to be left out, Democrat Attorney General Bob Ferguson jumped into the fray, claiming that Article II, Section 17 gives the legislature the right to withhold records, just in case the Democrats say something stupid they want to hide. If this was true, we’d never see another public record out of the legislature ever again.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government sums it up well – “the Washington State House of Representatives is asserting a workaround, claiming that legislators have a previously unknown personal privilege to withhold from public disclosure the documents they use in their work for the people.”
That’s pretty much a summary of the Democrats platform. If you don’t like the law, invent a new privilege, and wait for the lawsuits to roll in. The taxpayers will be happy to cover the cost.