Here's @GovInslee on with @ChrislHayes, appearing to surrender some of the powers of the executive branch.
Q: “So you’re going to veto it?”
A: “Well, I can’t, unfortunately, because they have a veto-proof majority, unfortunately, so I don’t have control at this moment.” pic.twitter.com/xUd5Hstnzq
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) February 27, 2018
When Governor Jay Inslee went on MSNBC yesterday to bask in his most visible Trump burn yet—wherein the governor actually said to the president's face that he recommended "less tweeting" and more listening to teachers who don't want to be packing heat in their classrooms—he probably wasn't anticipating a question about his own dedication to good governance.
But MSNBC's Chris Hayes did ask the governor about what he intended to do with the public records secrecy bill roiling reporters in his home state. While Inslee was at a Q&A at the White House on Monday, challenging the president in a way that (very much ironically) resembled a reporter pushing back on a politician at a press conference, state legislators in Washington had just pushed through a piece of legislation that would exempt themselves from the Public Records Act.
So Hayes asked if Inslee would veto the bill.
And Inslee's response? "Well, I can’t, unfortunately, because they have a veto-proof majority, unfortunately, so I don’t have control at this moment."
That's not true. It's not how veto power works. And Inslee has, in the past, vetoed dozens of pieces of legislation that had veto-proof majorities if he's believed strongly enough in the cause. According to his own stated principles about transparency, he should believe in this one.
Here's how the Seattle Times categorized the bill in an historic, front-page editorial urging Inslee use his veto power published this morning:
SB 6617 attempts to shut down a lawsuit brought by 10 news-media organizations, including The Associated Press and The Seattle Times. The bill tries to permanently ban access to lawmakers’ past emails, text messages and calendars, as well as past disciplinary proceedings and complaints about lawmakers’ conduct.
For reporters who have watched the dysfunctional state legislature spend months debating over what to name the state oyster, watching SB 6617 hurtle through both houses of the legislature in just two days after introduction was a breathtaking slap to the face. Just a month before, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled that state legislators were violating the law by refusing to release records like schedules, investigative reports, and e-mails. But now SB 6617 would keep years of those past records private, only subjecting e-mail exchanges with lobbyists and calendars generated after July 1 of this year to public scrutiny. The bill would still keep exchanges between lawmakers private, as well as exchanges between lawmakers and their constituents. It would also keep complaints of sexual harassment or assault against lawmakers offline, only daylighting final disciplinary reports—which, as Seattle Times reporter Joseph O'Sullivan noted, are rarely completed.
That's why the Seattle Times and seven other newspapers across the state published an editorial urging Inslee to veto the bill this morning.
Here's the Seattle Times on Inslee's "veto-proof majority" argument:
The governor must not be deterred simply because the bill passed with large enough majorities in both chambers to override his veto. He must force lawmakers to once again answer to their constituents. And, this time, he must urge those so-called public servants to actually listen.
If lawmakers choose to break the public’s trust yet again by overcoming an Inslee veto, voters will be left to conclude only one thing: These elected representatives must have something to hide.
As other newspapers have noted, Inslee prides himself on his dedication to transparency. On his very own "about" page, it reads that the governor is "recognized as one of the most transparent and open governors for his commitment to public disclosure and policy of not using executive privilege to withhold records."
If Inslee chooses to absolve himself of his own veto power on SB 6617, there's only one thing to conclude about the governor's commitment to public disclosure: It's bullshit.