It's unclear whether the Senate will ultimately commission an investigation, but a meeting is scheduled Thursday to discuss the idea. A Seattle woman accused Fain of raping her in Washington, D.C., in 2007. Fain has denied the allegation.
OLYMPIA — A state Senate committee will discuss commissioning an investigation into a Seattle woman’s allegation that Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, raped her in 2007.
The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee has scheduled a meeting for 11 a.m. on Thursday. A notice announcing the meeting said it was “to discuss a special budget authorization.”
A member of the committee, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, confirmed Wednesday that lawmakers will consider whether or not to commission an independent investigation into the allegation. McCoy declined further comment.
Fain has denied the allegation and called for a review. He didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment. The alleged incident occurred before he was elected to the Legislature.
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Candace Faber, in late September, alleged that Fain raped her 11 years ago in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., on the night she received a master’s degree from Georgetown University.
It’s unclear whether the Senate will ultimately pursue an investigation. Fain was leading in his re-election campaign Wednesday by fewer than 100 votes. If Democratic candidate Mona Das ultimately wins, the Senate might not act.
Thursday’s scheduled meeting comes as Washington officials have struggled over how to respond to the allegation, initially tweeted by Faber in the wake of the U.S. Senate hearing over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Farber has said she was inspired to come forward by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, who testified at the Senate hearing that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her when the two were teenagers.
In Olympia, state senators in both political parties, along with Gov. Jay Inslee, have said they’d like to see an inquiry of some sort in the allegation against Fain.
Although she would participate in an investigation, Faber has also said she doesn’t plan to sue Fain or seek a criminal investigation. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia has said police would investigate only if the allegation were reported to them.
The lack of legal jurisdiction and the fact that the alleged assault occurred before Fain was elected to the Legislature has left authorities in Washington unclear over who could or should investigate the matter.
Some suggested the possibility of King County conducting a review, because Fain was employed by the Metropolitan King County Council and appears to have been in Washington, D.C., for work at the time the incident is alleged to have occurred.
But at least one King County Council member, Claudia Balducci, balked at that idea.
“Suggesting an employment investigation by an entity that employed the accused person many years ago isn’t a serious response,” Balducci wrote in an email late last month.
A trio of Democratic state lawmakers who represent the district where Faber lives recently called for the Senate to investigate.
One of those legislators, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, of Seattle, said Wednesday that the Senate isn’t the ideal place for an investigation and that he’d prefer law enforcement take a lead.
But because no other institution has stepped forward, “the Senate has enough of an interest in figuring out these allegations against one of its members that the Senate should do it,” he said.