Rep. Drew MacEwen tells Inslee to reimburse WSP for ‘vanity run’
Now that Governor Jay Inslee has decided to trade in his presidential campaign for a gubernatorial one, 35th Legislative District Rep. Drew MacEwen (R-Union) is calling on the governor to reimburse the Washington State Patrol for the money it cost to take his security escort with him on the campaign trail.
On Thursday, Inslee said at a press conference in Seattle that while he was ending his six-month presidential campaign — in which he came in at 0 percent in the latest polls — he would be running for a third term for governor.
When asked by reporters at the event if he would use his remaining campaign funds to pay back the money it cost to have his 14-person WSP security detail travel around the U.S. with him, Inslee responded simply that he planned to “follow the law,” and that the law holds that WSP must provide the governor of Washington with security at all times.
It is also allowed by the law of Washington for the governor to reimburse the state.
While MacEwen has no problem with governors having a security detail, he feels that Inslee spent that time on the campaign trail serving not his constituents, but himself.
“He did, frankly, a vanity run that I believe was really to raise his profile, to increase his donor base, to really seek a third term, and/or a cabinet position should his party capture the presidency in 2020,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “And I believe that was his intent all along.”
Normally, the governor’s security detail would consist of nine people — eight troopers and a sergeant. However, it was inflated to 17 people — 14 troopers, two sergeants, and a lieutenant — for campaign travel.
KIRO 7 TV calculated that between March and June, the state government spent nearly $268,000 on overtime hours for the WSP officers. Their travel expenses for that time added up to nearly $313,000.
“To bill the taxpayers of this state for the cost overrun of his security detail is disingenuous at best,” MacEwen said.
On Tuesday, Inslee announced on Twitter that he had received over 130,000 donations.
MacEwen does not ask Inslee to reimburse the entire sum that was spent, but just a token amount to show that he cares about the taxpayers.
“I recognize that it probably wouldn’t be the full amount, but it would be a good gesture, and I think we could probably call it good and move on,” he said. “But his insistence that he’s not [going to do so], I think, really goes to the core of the purpose of this race.”
He expects that these national campaign dollars will be transferred over to Inslee’s state campaign coffers for the 2020 governor’s race.
The legislator finds it hypocritical that Inslee would use the law as his reasoning for choosing not to reimburse the state when in other instances, he has very publicly declared he will not follow the law of Washington. For example, he chose to suspend use of the death penalty in 2014, a penalty that is written into Washington state law.
“You don’t get to pick and choose which ones you follow and don’t follow,” MacEwen said. “If he wants to follow everything to the T, then do it — but he’ll only follow what suits him … and that leaves the taxpayers of this state hanging with the bill.”
So far, Republic Police Chief Loren Culp and Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn) have declared their candidacy as Republicans in the 2020 gubernatorial race. While MacEwen has an idea of who else plans to join the race, he can’t reveal the identities of these future candidates; however, he thinks it will be “a very competitive race.”
“I do think the governor is vulnerable with his mental health [policy] failures, his failures to abide by his campaign promises over two cycles that he would never raise taxes, but yet every budget he’s proposed has raised taxes,” MacEwen said. “Now the homelessness crisis, the opioid crisis, and now this … I do believe the governor is vulnerable.”
Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.