Washington legislative corruption in 1889 and 2016. Not much has changed.

History suggests the Washington legislature has always been corrupted by the wealthy. And history shows this is true.

Indeed, it is obvious that the same legislative corruption which our founders sought to suppress in 1889 by carefully writing our Constitution to prevent such abuses continues in 2016.  Indeed, Michelle Darnell carefully documents the Washington legislature’s disdain for the people in this article.  Darnell explains how she and other representatives for Washington’s homeowners and homeless travelled from across the State to meet with the House legislative “judiciary” committee to discuss the important issues affecting these people and their neighbors.


The Judiciary Committee only has time to listen listen to what banksters want. They have no time to listen to the people. Indeed, the all powerful legislators  refuse to even listen to homeowners and other less than rich people, who want to go on record as objecting to the legislature writing ever more biased laws to promote the interests of wealthy lenders (banksters) and servicers(hedge funds) in violation of our founders’ intentions.

The Washington legislature’s long time history of corruption by special interests is not a secret. The way our founders intended to prevent such corruption in the future (including now) is demonstrated by the structure of Washington’s Constitution. The preamble states: “We, the people of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this constitution.” The first section of the first Article of Washington’s Constitution proclaims: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.” Among those rights the people were supposed to be protected from is the flagrant abuse of Washington’s citizens demonstrated by the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Now just so it is clear that I am not the only one who is aware of the dismal conduct over time of Washington’s legislature I want to refer you to others who have commented on this. For example, in 1992 Brian Snure wrote a law review article entitled A FREQUENT RECURRENCE TO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES: INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, FREE GOVERNMENT, AND THE WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION.

Snure’s article discusses the legislative corruption which gave rise to Washington’s Constitution and explains how our founders intended to stop legislative corruption by the wealthy in the future.

In his law review article, Snure writes:


Washington’s citizens were poised at a crossroad of change when they drafted their constitution. A crossroad between the industrial age of robber barons and the rural frontier of the rugged individual, between the future and the past. In the ten years prior to the 1889 Constitutional Convention, Washington Territory evolved from a wilderness populated by 75,000 settlers, cut off by a month’s travel time from the nation’s capital, to a rapidly growing state of 350,000, linked by a three-day train ride to the eastern seaboard.”

The delegates at the 1889 Constitutional Convention” faced two major challenges stemming from the territory’s rapid transformation. First, Washington Territory experienced government corruption. Second, private corporate power grew tremendously over the latter half of the nineteenth century, bringing both progress and problems to Washington. The delegates addressed the turbulent changes wrought by these forces by protecting individual rights with a broadly phrased Declaration of Rights, and through specific constitutional restrictions on both governmental and private power,” Additionally, the framers removed traditional powers from the legislative branch and placed democratic checks on all three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial.” The parameters ofthese responses contribute to understanding the fundamental principles embraced by the constitution, and the manner in which the principles were intended to secure individual rights and perpetuate free government.

A. The Historical Context: Government Tyranny and Corporate Abuses

Washington’s citizens feared governmental tyranny, a tyranny they generally identified with the legislative branch. The settlers, who were primarily immigrants from other states, had extensive experience with and knowledge of legislative abuses.” In addition, Washington Territory itself experienced legislative abuses. In 1862-63, the legislature reportedly passed no general laws, but enacted more than 150 pieces of special legislation for the benefit of “private interests against the general welfare,” The delegates to the Constitutional Convention carried these experiences with them; one delegate remarked that if a stranger were to step into the convention “he would conclude that we were fighting a great enemy and that this enemy is the legislature.” (emphasis added)

While the legislature may have been the enemy, governmental corruption also existed in the executive and judicial branches. Washington’s governors were criticized for abusing their patronage powers. Although Washington’s citizens respected the level of justice provided by the judiciary, they vocally criticized the judiciary because of absentee judges, political manipulations, and the lack of local control over appointments.

The presence of powerful corporations in Washington was often at the root of the governmental corruption. (emphasis added) The late nineteenth century in America was an era of rapidly increasing concentrations of wealth in the hands of relatively few individuals.” Notably, Washington would probably not have contemplated statehood in 1889 if it had not benefitted from the economic growth, and associated population increase, that corporate wealth had provided.

Numerous problems, however, also accompanied the expansion of corporate power in Washington. Chapters of national third-party political organizations such as the Grange, the Farmers Alliance, and the Knights of Labor sprang up in Washington Territory, partly in response to the expansion of corporate power. These organizations feared that uncontrolled concentrations of capital were threatening social stability and individual freedoms throughout the country. (emphasis added) For instance, the populist-minded Washington State Grange lashed out at the “money Kings of the East,” the trusts and monopolies that “were oppressing the laborer and robbing agriculture of its just rewards. The Grange’s concerns were not imagined. Washington’s citizens had a history of conflict with corporations, primarily railroads.” Excessive freight rates charged by railroad monopolies plagued Washington’s farmers. The territorial legislature’s failure to set railroad rates further angered farmers.”

Laborers and labor sympathizers expressed additional distrust and anger toward the growth of corporations.” A great deal of this anger stemmed from the conditions and disturbances in the mining camps around the state. In 1886 and 1889, violence broke out in Roslyn and Newcastle when mining companies hired armed guards to thwart striking miners.” Dangerous working conditions faced by industrial workers around the state led to requests for constitutional provisions requiring the legislature to enact health and safety laws.”

Snure’s reference to the legislative corruption which inspired Washington’s constitutional separation of powers is based on our founders’ own words, newspaper accounts reporting the convention, and commentaries from observers who were there. It is beyond dispute that Washington’s Constitution was written and ratified at a time “when the wholesale corruption of state legislatures [was] laughed at by honest men throughout America.” Ockletree v. Franciscan Health Sys., 179 Wash. 2d 769, 790, 317 P.3d 1009 (2014) (Stephens J dissenting, quoting James Leonard Fitts, The Washington Constitutional Convention of 1889, at 28- 29 (1951)). Delegates to Washington‟s constitutional convention were united in their desire to reign in legislative corruption. Id.; see also Jonathan Thompson, J., The Washington Constitution’s Prohibition on Special Privileges and Immunities: Real Bite for “Equal Protection” Review of Regulatory Legislation?, 69 Temp. L. Rev. 1247, 1277-78 (1996); Utter & Spitzer, at 9-11.

So flash-forward to January, 2016 when Washington’s legislators’ show the people just how much their input means to them.

How much?



These legislators don’t want to hear from the people. The legislators make clear to one and all: the judiciary committee is only interested in what the wealthy and their lobbyists have to say.

As can be seen from Snure’s article, this is nothing new.

But our founders intended to stop such abuses by writing the Constitution they did.

Obviously our founders failed or legislators have decided they can ignore Washington’s Constitution.

Want to stop corruption in Olympia right now?

Then I urge you consider not supporting incumbents.

Further, you might want to consider not continuing your support for the two party tyranny which has caused this evil to descend and deepen in our State.

Many of my friends refer to both the republican and democratic parties as the “mono-party” because when it comes down to voting they are one and the same… each is hand fed by the 1% to whom they are so obviously loyal.

If you want to send an email indicating your displeasure at the way the House Judiciary Committee treated the people of Washington then send an email to its chairman at Laurie.Jinkins@leg.wa.gov And certainly if you are displeased with her snubbing your neighbors, don’t vote for her.

2016 is an election year. If legislators think they can treat the people like this months before we are supposed to vote for them, maybe we should send them a pretty clear message.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF WASHINGTON, ARE DISGUSTED WITH THEIR TWO PARTY TYRANNY and we are actively looking for their replacements.

Total Views: 2991 ,

About Scott . Stafne

Mr. Stafne is very experienced in property rights, including banking wrongs and foreclosure prevention; Constitutional Law (under the United States and Washington State Constitution); Appellate law; land use law; personal injury law. Scott has recently become a media focal point as his win record of foreclosure defense cases against the largest financial institutions, servicers, trustees as well as MERS have blazed the trail toward ending the foreclosure crisis and representing the rights of the homeowner above the profits and secret dealings of corporations.   Scott sees law as a foundation for establishing a system of twenty first century liberties for the people; and for removing that corruption of power within our government which makes the achievement of real purpose beholden to only money.   Scott Stafne has been an attorney since graduating from the University of Iowa in 1974. He worked for a large law firm in Indianapolis (Baker & Daniels) for two years. Thereafter, he moved to Seattle Washington in order to obtain a Masters of Law degree from the University of Washington, which he obtained in 1977. Scott practiced law while going to graduate school and has practiced ever since.   This is a personal blog, and does not constitute legal advice in any form, and is not necessarily reflective of the policies or opinions of Stafne Law Firm. Visit the Law Firm: https://stafnelaw.com Visit the Google+ Page: https://plus.google.com/+ScottStafne Visit the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/scott.stafne.75   *Web Developer: David J. Posel
Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed