Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, issued a statement on Feb. 25, alleging that Democrats were illegally using state resources for Democratic Party campaign training.
Emerge Washington, an organization that trains women to run for Democratic Party political offices, was scheduled to use a meeting space on the capitol campus from Feb. 23- 25. The meeting for Monday, Feb. 25 was canceled after Schoesler’s letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane.
“Those training to run for public office should not start their careers learning how to use facilities paid for with taxpayer dollars in order to advance their political careers,” said Schoesler in his statement.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 26, Schoesler said he plans to make a complaint to the ethics board.
“This is the most blatant abuse of state resources in decades,” Schoesler said.
Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, is a 2017 alumni of the Emerge Washington Program and her staff along with staff of Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, made the reservations.
Schoesler’s statement said these activities are violations of Washington state legislative ethics rules and Wilson speaking about Emerge Washington during personal privilege on the senate floor, Monday, was a violation of Senate Rule 33.
Senator Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, acting as vice president pro tempore, recognized the 2019 Christine Gregoire Cohort of Emerge Washington, the 27 graduates who were present in the gallery. During Wilson’s point of privilege, she mentioned the women would be shadowing legislators on Monday.
Republican and Democrat groups meet at the capitol frequently, said Billig. However, he did support the cancelling of the event.
“I think airing on the side of caution is always a good decision,” Billig said.
Emerge Washington is part of Emerge America, their parent organization, which has chapters in 25 states.