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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 Lt. Governor Agrees To $15K Ethics Fine

Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen has agreed to a $15,000 ethics fine. The settlement announced Friday stemmed from the five-term Democrat’s use of state resources to operate a non-profit with his wife.

The ethics investigation concluded that Owen used his office and staff to help run Strategies for Youth, a non-profit that went around to schools performing concerts with an anti-bullying message.

On occasion, Owen’s staff helped schedule and set-up these concerts. Owen also hired one of the musicians as his administrative assistant. When Strategies for Youth dissolved in 2011, Owen’s wife Linda inherited the non-profit’s assets.

“There is certainly an aggravating factor present here which is that Lt. Governor Owen is an elected official,” said Chad Standifer, a lawyer with the Executive Ethics Board. “But there is also a mitigating factor present which is that the Lt. Governor Owen’s goal was a positive one, to educate kids through these programs.”

In a statement, Lt. Gov. Owen said he agreed to the settlement to “put an end to a frustrating process.” He vowed to “continue with vigor” his efforts on behalf of Washington children.

One-third of the fine will be suspended if Owen has no further ethics violations over the next two years.

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."