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Senate Republicans speaking out against planned Fain investigation

Two Republican State Senators — Sens. Ann Rivers and Randi Becker — are speaking out against the Senate’s planned investigation into Sen. Joe Fain, who lost his re-election bid in November.

Candace Faber accused Sen. Fain of raping her in 2007 via a tweet in September. The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee approved a special budget authorization to hire an independent investigator to look into the allegation in November, a decision that had bipartisan support. After Fain conceded to challenger Mona Das, newly elected Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig told The Seattle Times that the Senate planned to move forward with the investigation.

In a guest editorial published by The News Tribune, Sen. Ann Rivers called the situation “one of the most distasteful episodes ever to play out in Washington state politics,” and aimed criticism at news media, Faber’s accusation, and the planned investigation.

The news media, Rivers wrote, reported on the matter “uncritically, without reporting many details that would give any reasonable person pause,”

“Not so long ago, when the press was strong and prided itself on high ethical standards, it would have refused to repeat Candace Faber’s claim,” Rivers wrote. “Her accusation has never been a matter of official record; she refused to file a police report.”

Rivers went on to write that Faber’s public tweets raise “a number of red flags” as to her motivations and that while “A few news media organizations mentioned she was hospitalized last year for mental illness,” it was “always with a curious fillip diminishing its importance.”

Ultimately, she made a case against continuing the investigation.

“The investigator would merely interview the parties involved and try to make sense of their stories,” Rivers wrote. “We don’t expect an opportunity for cross-examination. We doubt we would have a chance to argue for inclusion of evidence. There is a mountain of information casting doubt on Faber’s accusation, from Faber’s own postings on the Web. Because the press chose to ignore it, we have reason to fear this improper investigation would do the same.”

Sen. Randi Becker, who originally voiced support for an investigation, wrote with similar frustration in a letter to Sen. Jon McCoy, who chairs the Facility and Operations Committee. Becker mentioned neither Faber’s background nor the news media in her criticisms. In the letter, she formally asked for a new vote regarding the investigation and wrote that “the proper place for the allegation to be examined is within the criminal justice system.”

“By now it should be apparent to everyone this effort can serve no legitimate legislative purpose,” Becker wrote. “Now that Sen. Fain has been defeated for re-election, the plan can only be seen as a partisan witch-hunt, aimed at the destruction of an individual member of the Senate who has served with great distinction.”

Becker referenced a prior attempt to request a discontinuation of the investigation on November 21, for which, she wrote, she is “still awaiting the courtesy of a reply.”

“Your silence on this matter forces us to express ourselves more bluntly,” she wrote in the most recent letter. “If the Senate Democratic Caucus continues to pursue this investigation, it will poison the relationship between our two caucuses, reduce cooperation, and make it all the more difficult for the Senate as a whole to do the work we have been elected to do.”

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