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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Special Session Has Political Fundraising Implications

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

An expected special session of the Washington legislature would mean another freeze on political fundraising. State law prohibits lawmakers from soliciting contributions while they are in session. For most members that’s probably not a huge concern since this is an off-election year. But a few legislators will be on this year’s ballot.

The so-called session freeze on fundraising lifts at 12:01am on the day after adjournment. It goes back into effect at 12:01am on the first day of a special session. You can bet candidates will make the most of whatever window they get.

State Senator Tim Sheldon is one of two Democrats who joined with Republicans this year to create a majority coalition. He says if Governor Jay Inslee doesn’t immediately call lawmakers back into session, it will be for political reasons.

“Really I gotta say frankly I smell a rat,” he says.

Sheldon notes that Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray is running for Seattle mayor. There’s also hot race to fill a vacant state senate seat on the Kitsap Peninsula.

“And I think it’s politics that now gets involved,” Sheldon adds.

A spokesman for Governor Inslee says it demeans the senate majority to suggest the Democrat would schedule a special session based on fundraising considerations. When Senator Sheldon made his charge he was flanked by several Republican members of the majority coalition.

Turns out Senate Republicans have a campaign fundraiser scheduled for 9 o’clock Monday morning.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."