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    By: Brian Matthews
    Song Pick: “Talking In Your Sleep” by The Romantics

    How back-asswards is the State of Washington, you ask? Put it this way; when the very people charged with making the laws don’t even know how to read the very laws they make, then it’s safe to say that the State of Washington is VERY back-asswards.

    As an investigative journalist, aspiring jurist, and for personal legal interests I wanted to get an insight into what was happening in the Sixty-Fifth Washington State Legislature. So, I submitted identical but independent Public Records requests addressed to the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate under the appropriate provisions of State Law–RCW 42.56.001 et seq. I requested public records for varying aspects of the different statutes being made and processed therefor.

    The Legislative Information Center responded to both requests and told me that the records I sought were not public records. As I was clearly making a public. records request, I renewed my original request; with another request using more exact verbiage to explain what I was requesting. I figured that I’d go above and beyond to give these State agencies every opportunity to get their shit together and give me what the laws they make say to give me. Needless to say, they told me again that the records I was requesting were not public records, and sold me documents that I didn’t even want. I then and there deduced that I would sue each Chamber.

    I tell my friend about the lawmakers’ illegality, and he does an independent public records request to the Office of the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate requesting the same shit I had requested. Low and behold, they tell him there are about 200,000 pages of responsive records, and how does he want them delivered. He opts for electronic access, and to date they’ve already given him approximately 15,000 pages of records. Mind you, when I asked for the same records–twice–they told me I wasn’t even seeking public records and sold me records that I had not even requested.

    So, I ultimately filed a civil suit alleging the illegality of the Office of the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate’s actions. They quickly answered the complaint and categorically denied everything. But, about 30 days after service of the complaint I received two letters in the mail–one from the Office of the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives and one from the Secretary of the Senate. In both letters, they acknowledged that they misread my second request and apologized for the 11-month delay in responding to my PRA request. They disclose that they DO IN FACT have responsive records for my request and they start listing various categories of records they have. Not to be outdone, the AG representing the two Chambers have currently asked the Court for permission to depose me and my friend in what I can only surmise is an attempt to intimidate or harass the both of us, because I’ve already submitted the records proving my case. There’s nothing more that they can possibly obtain that isn’t already on the record. I’m currently prosecuting both legislative Chambers under Thurston County Superior Court Cause #s 18-2-01765-34, and 18-2-01796-34, respectively.

    This story will continue as it develops.


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