State Senators were mighty unimpressed with the performance of Department of Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke at a Monday hearing on the scandal surrounding the early release of prisoners over the last 12 years. According to an Associated Press story, “Pacholke was unable to answer several of (Senator Mike) Padden’s questions, including why it took more than a month for the head of the agency’s technology to notify senior officials in the agency about the problem.”
Based on the lack of responsiveness from Pacholke, Sen. Padden – the chair of the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee – teamed up with his Vice Chair, Sen. Steve O’Ban, to announce they would seek a “subpoena to force the disclosure of records connected with the early release of thousands of prisoners in Washington.”
Why the Senators felt it necessary to write Governor Jay Inslee to tell him they were seeking the subpoena was explained by O’Ban to the AP: ” ‘Regrettably, the Legislature must take this step to get these important documents that have been withheld by the Department of Corrections, so that we can do our job to get to the bottom of this unprecedented breakdown of public safety. If the governor had authorized the DOC to produce the documents by a date certain, we would not need to call on the Legislature to issue the subpoena.’ ”
Inslee appears to be taking a circling-the-wagons approach to the scandal, seemingly trying to control the fallout by launching an “independent” investigation that is being led by his own chief counsel. And his response to the Senators’ subpoena announcement was to go on the attack: “Inslee spokesperson Jaime Smith also issued a statement accusing Senate Republicans of a ‘dishonest, publicity-seeking campaign’.”
The Seattle blog Crosscut correctly summed up the situation in a story today: “With two investigations getting underway – one in a Republican-led committee and the other liable to claims of influence from a Democratic governor – the lingering question is just how much of a election-year hot potato the issue will remain in coming months.”
Thanks for the great news! Jay Inslee is not up to the job.