State to hire sunshine watchdog

Staff writerSeptember 17, 2013 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he will hire a full-time employee devoted to government transparency.

The job of open-government ombudsman is vacant after the departure of Tim Ford, who did the job part time. Ferguson had said he planned to hire a replacement. On Monday, he told the so-called Sunshine Committee on open-records that he would make it a full-time job.

His office began a search Monday to fill the post.

“In my view, it’s one of the most important functions we have in our office,” said Ferguson, a Democrat. “It’s been a goal of mine from day one.”

The job involves giving advice to agencies, local governments and the public on open-meetings law and public-records law. It was full time when then-Attorney General Rob McKenna created it, but McKenna cut it back to part time in July 2011 after budget cuts.

Ferguson said he found the money to reinstate it in part by eliminating vacant positions in his office. He said he is also giving some raises to attorneys whose wages have been frozen for years.

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, a member of the Sunshine Committee, said it would have been politically difficult for Ferguson to avoid reinstating the full-time post. “But I was sure he would, and I’m glad that he did,” Roach said. “That was the right thing to do.”

Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 jordan.schrader@ thenewstribune.com @Jordan_Schrader

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