Tuesday afternoon, Democrats in the Senate suspended the investigation into Candace Faber's rape allegation against Sen. Joe Fain. Faber made the accusation during the Kavanaugh hearings in late September, saying that Fain raped her in a hotel room in Washington D.C. after her graduation from a master's program at Georgetown University. Fain denied the allegation and told KING 5 his "memory of the events do not coincide with her allegations."
As the Seattle Times, who first reported this story, points out, everybody—"Fain, Faber, lawmakers from both parties and Gov. Jay Inslee"—called for an investigation. With all this bipartisan agreement, with all this civil cooperation, why don't we have an investigation? Well, it's a classic combo of inaction from Democrats and typical hypocritical bullshit from the Republicans.
Instead of immediately calling for an emergency committee meeting to address the issue, Senate Democrats sat on their hands for a month after Faber first accused Fain of raping her. Granted, the legislature clearly had no process in place to handle a claim of this nature, but the Democrats have had a clear majority for
two years a year now, so the responsibility for that falls on them.
After finally deciding to do something about it, a bipartisan committee approved funding for an investigation into the allegations against Fain. But after Fain lost his re-election to Mona Das, the Seattle Times editorial board, who referred to Fain as a "treasure" in their endorsement of his campaign for Senate, called for the bipartisan senate committee to drop its investigation into the allegations. Why? Because continuing to pursue the investigation would "smack of partisan politics." That argument obviously doesn't make any sense, but what do you expect from the state's paper of record?
Then, Republican Senators, who had solemnly called for an investigation after the allegation first emerged, started pretending like they hadn't called for an investigation. Sen. Ann Rivers led the charge here, writing a truly Trumpian guest ed in the The News Tribune. In the editorial, she attacks Faber's character with idiotic claims, criticizes the Times for finding a rape allegation against a sitting state senator newsworthy, and calls for the end of an investigation she and everybody else asked for. Of course, Republicans can do this shit because they're shameless hypocrites who only think of the world as a series of short-term political gains, but, still, it's galling every time it happens.
And now that Republicans have predictably gone back on their word, Democrats have suddenly found their spines. In a strongly worded letter today to Republican Caucus Chair Senator Randi Becker, Democratic Senator John McCoy said Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler wouldn't approve any of the investigators, "many" of whom had been suggested by Republicans themselves. Without "good faith participation" from the GOP, McCoy added, "the only option at this point is for the Secretary of the Senate to suspend the process of hiring an investigator." He calls the behavior from Republicans "discouraging," and makes a strong argument for the senate's authority to investigate its own members so long as they're still seated.
"Despite this unfortunate result, our caucus intends to stand by our values," McCoy writes. "We will continue to insist that any complaint against a member be addressed promptly, fairly, and without political bias, as required by the Senate’s Policy on Appropriate Workplace Conduct." This kind of strong language would have been very useful back in late September when the Democrats were busy doing nothing about Faber's accusation.
In a statement, newly elected Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig reflected McCoy's sentiment. "I regret this outcome, but none of this changes the diligent efforts our Legislature has made, and continues to make, in creating a better culture in our legislative community. We must work together to do better on behalf of both survivors and those accused of this behavior.”
The fact that the Senate won't be continuing an investigation—at least for now—is no surprise to Faber. "Honestly, I never believed for a minute that the people who said they wanted an investigation would make one happen," Faber said to The Stranger in a message. "The word 'investigation' was used as a shield by Fain, his defenders, and his donors. They claimed they could not take action without one. Well, now it's on them to either investigate it for themselves or acknowledge what so many of them have said between the lines from the beginning: It doesn't really matter to them."
However, this commitment from Democrats to take seriously the stories of survivors and to address them "promptly" and "fairly" does seem like some sort of progress, and it aligns with what Faber thinks is the most useful next step.
"I feel like now is a great time for a deeper investigation into all the ways this system fails survivors. That would be more interesting and useful anyway," Faber added. "I don't need an investigation to know what happened—this isn't some unsolved mystery. But I hope it will move things forward in some small way."