The state Senate on Tuesday ended an outside investigation it had planned into a rape allegation lodged against state Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, nearly a month after he lost his 47th Legislative District reelection bid.
The Democratic leaders’ decision came a day after Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, chair of the Senate Republican Caucus, wrote to Democratic leadership, declaring that the probe would serve no legislative purpose as Fain is leaving office, and that the proper investigator would be law enforcement and the proper place to try such a case the courts.
In her letter to Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, chair of the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee, Becker wrote: “Now that Sen. Fain has been defeated for reelection, the plan can only be seen as a partisan witch-hunt, aimed at the destruction of an individual member of the Senate who has served with great distinction.”
On Nov. 8, the committee, composed of McCoy and three Democrats and Becker and two other Republicans, had agreed it would spend funds to hire an outside investigator to look into Candice Faber’s allegation that Fain had raped her on the day she graduated from Georgetown University in 2007. The investigator was to report back no later than Dec. 31.
Faber first made the allegation in a tweet in September.
Fain, who was not in office at the time of the alleged sexual assault, has denied the allegation and called for an investigation into the claim. Faber, a former foreign service officer and an employee of Seattle’s Information Technology Department, has said she will not press charges.
In the aftermath of the Nov. 6 general election outcome, circumstances changed, leading Becker and Republican senators to call off the planned bipartisan investigation.
In her letter to McCoy, Becker warned, “If the Senate Democratic Caucus continues to pursue this investigation, it will poison the relationship between our two caucuses, reduce cooperation, and make it all the more difficult for the Senate as a whole to do the work we have been elected to do.”
In her letter, Becker said Republicans had agreed that the matter should be investigated, but at this stage the allegation is more of a matter for law enforcement or the courts.
“For the Senate to conduct an investigation without a legislative purpose is absurd,” Becker wrote. “No one has alleged any wrongdoing involving legislative activities or at any time during (Fain’s) term of office. Any legitimate purpose is gone.”
McCoy responded in a letter to Becker on Tuesday.
“The simple fact is that Sen. Fain remains a member of this body until noon on Jan. 14, 2019. So long as he maintains his title as a representative of the people, the Senate has authority to judge his qualifications to do so.
“Nor does Sen. Fain’s defeat mean the Senate should back away from its responsibility to the public, to survivors of assault, and to those accused of assault. Yes, we embrace the word ‘survivor’ in referring to Ms. Faber and women like her, women who have the courage to come forward despite knowing they will face the might of institutions not likely to believe them. Just as Sen/ Fain deserves the benefit of the doubt, a fair and thorough investigation, and to be treated respectfully throughout the process, so too does Ms. Faber.
“It is discouraging to hear the Republican Caucus has viewed this process as a partisan one, considering the extraordinary efforts undertaken in selecting an appropriate investigator to ensure this is not the case.”
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, was disappointed on the suspension of the Senate’s investigation.
“Four weeks ago, our Republican colleagues stood with us to launch a bipartisan, independent investigation into Candace Faber’s rape allegation against Sen. Joe Fain,” Billig wrote in a statement. “That action demonstrated this institution’s dedication to put politics aside in the pursuit of a safe environment for survivors to come forward, and for those accused of such behavior to receive fair treatment.
“Unfortunately, Senator Becker’s letter (Monday) has made it clear that this investigation cannot proceed. In light of Republican leadership’s reversal of their support in facilitating a fair, unbiased investigation, the only option available is for the Secretary of the Senate to suspend the process of hiring an investigator.
“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.”
Fain lost his reelection bid to Covington Democrat Mona Das.
Fain, 37, was first elected to the state Senate in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He served as the Senate minority floor leader during the 2018 legislative session.