We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, write to express our dismay at the recent appointment of former Senator Joe Fain to the Washington State Redistricting Commission by Senate Republican Leader John Braun. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all want to have leaders whom we can trust to respect our state laws, our societal norms and values, and the boundaries of individuals—especially those related to sexual assault and consent. It is widely known that Commissioner Fain is the subject of allegations of rape and no formal investigation into the matter has yet been made. Fain himself has not yet answered to these allegations.
The Commission must take immediate action to ensure a safe environment that upholds the duties of its important role.
We strongly urge Commissioners to quickly develop and adopt a robust code of conduct to ensure a safe and respectful place for the public, staff, and Commissioners. While all public agencies should adopt and strongly enforce codes of conduct, under the circumstances the need is especially heightened for the Commission.
We were heartened to hear Commissioner April Sims express interest in adopting a code of conduct at the first meeting of the Commission. We recommend the Commission look to the Washington State Legislature’s code of conduct as a model to adopt prior to hiring any Commission staff. Our foremost ask is that Commissioner Fain resign from the Washington State Redistricting Commission and request the following of the Washington Senate Republican Caucus.
- Commissioner Fain have no in-person access to staff, members of the public, or other Commissioners.
- Commissioner Fain’s written, digital, and verbal communications to any internal or external person be supervised by a predetermined third-party staffer.
While we do not believe these actions go far enough and we do believe that Commissioner Fain never should have been appointed to begin with, we remain confident that by taking action and enacting the above safeguards, the Commission may nonetheless be able to uphold the values and duties of their important role.
Lack of action on behalf of the Commission would normalize sexually predatory behavior and set a dangerous precedent that sexual assault accusations are not taken seriously by Washington State officials, further discouraging others who may experience similar incidents from bringing forth their own experiences. The Commission must act immediately so that staff and Commissioners have a safe space to properly carry out the functions of their job.
We look forward to hearing from you about the steps and timeline that you will follow to demonstrate your support for safety and justice for sexual assault survivors and accountability for offenders.
Susan Marks, Executive Director, Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
Riddhi Mukhopadhyay, Director, Sexual Violence Law Center
Kia Guarino, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
Amanda Reykdal, Communications Chair, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington
Jennifer Allen, CEO, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii
Eowyn Savela, President, Riveters Collective
Jessica Gavre, Chair, South Sound Women's Leadership
Tina Podlodowski, Chair, Washington State Democratic Party
*Note that the call for an investigation has been removed from this letter