Gov. Jay Inslee’s office accuses 2 GOP lawmakers of “a dishonest, publicity-seeking campaign” for seeking subpoena power because they are not satisfied with the investigation into the early release of prisoners.
OLYMPIA — Two lawmakers Wednesday night announced they would seek subpoena power to get records related to the state’s long-running, mistaken early release of prisoners.
GOP Sens. Mike Padden and Steven O’Ban said the Senate Law and Justice Committee planned an inquiry into the sentence-calculating error that state officials say released up to 3,200 inmates since 2002.
While the state Department of Corrections (DOC) staff learned of the problem in 2012, an intended software fix was delayed 16 times and never made. It is finally being tested this week.
Gov. Jay Inslee and DOC Secretary Dan Pacholke say they learned of the problem in mid-December.
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The senators sent Inslee a letter Wednesday evening announcing they would seek to subpoena “records associated with the case,” according to the statement.
Padden said in prepared remarks that lawmakers aren’t satisfied with an investigation launched by Inslee and answers provided so far by Pacholke. The governor has tasked two former federal prosecutors with the inquiry.
A statement Thursday morning by Inslee’s spokeswoman accused the senators of “a dishonest, publicity seeking campaign.”
“Legislative leaders were briefed before the news was made public, the investigators spoke with Senator Padden, and Secretary Pacholke has been forthcoming with information,” wrote Jaime Smith in an email. “The governor’s general counsel has been accessible to lawmakers and their staff and providing information to those who asked.
“We acknowledge and respect the Legislature’s oversight role consistent with their constitutional and statutory obligations,” Smith wrote, but accused Republicans of “politicizing of the issue.”
The statement by Padden and O’Ban also cited frustration over Pacholke’s appearance at a committee session Monday. Pacholke provided few answers about the sentencing error and the investigation.
The committee must pass a resolution seeking a subpoena, according to the senators. That resolution must be approved by the Senate Rules Committee before a subpoena can be issued.
The committee also may issue subpoenas for witness testimony if people don’t appear voluntarily, O’Ban said in the statement.