Washington state

Washington Supreme Court says effort to recall Gov. Inslee won’t fly legally

A Thurston County effort to recall Washington Gov. Jay Inslee from office is legally insufficient, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday.

The unanimous decision upheld a Thurston County Superior Court ruling.

Olympia resident Arthur West submitted a petition to recall the governor on Dec. 13, 2018.

West previously attempted to recall Inslee in 2013 over Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana.

The 2018 petition asserted Inslee should be recalled because the governor:

  • Abdicated his duties by taking 32 out-of-state trips through August 2018 as part of his failed presidential campaign.
  • Maintained a residence on Bainbridge Island and kept state-related books, papers and public records at an office in Washington, D.C.
  • Failed to ensure environmental, nuisance and criminal law were faithfully executed.
  • Failed to use his executive powers to address homelessness.
  • Improperly used state resources to promote an environmental initiative.

Washington Attorney General’s Office prepared a ballot synopsis based on the citizen complaint and petitioned the Thurston County court to determine the charges were legally sufficient to proceed.

When the lower court deemed they were not, West appealed to the state Supreme Court. The court heard arguments on Oct. 3.

“None of the recall charges are legally or factually sufficient, West’s petition may state reasons to disagree with Governor Inslee, but they are not proper reasons to support a recall,” it said in a 14-page decision written by Justice Barbara Madsen and signed by all nine justices.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.