On the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will support legislation criminalizing lying about election results.
“It should not be legal in the state of Washington for elected officials or candidates for office to willfully lie about these election results,” he said speaking to reporters in Olympia on Jan. 6.
Making false statements about election results without evidence would be classified as a gross misdemeanor under his proposal, Inslee said. A draft is undergoing finishing touches but has no sponsors yet.
Inslee said he believes the proposal will not violate the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, as it aims to only limit language that incites violence.
“The courts have held that speech that promotes violence is something that can be regulated to protect the civil society,” he said.
Speaking forcefully and with emotion, Inslee argued the legislation is needed to prevent violence, such as last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, which stemmed from former President Trump and his allies perpetuating the belief the election was stolen.
“The defeated President of the United States had a plan that failed on January 6, but he is right back in the saddle of insurrection,” Inslee said.
Former President Trump issued a statement earlier in the day reiterating the presidential election was stolen, ending, “Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!”
Gov. Inslee also urged members of both parties to denounce three Republican State Legislators who attended a three-day “Cyber Symposium” which promised to provide evidence of hacking in the 2020 election.
State Representatives Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, and Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, used tax-payer money to attend the South Dakota conference hosted by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.
“It is most disturbing to me that we had three Republican legislators who went to an organizing effort to continue that insurgency and to continue to sow doubt in our electoral process,” Gov. Inslee said. “This is a cancer in our society.”
Additional House and Senate members addressed the anniversary of the Capitol attack during a preview of the coming legislative session, which opens Jan. 10.
“I want to be clear, what happened a year ago was indefensible,” House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said.
She praised Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, for their condemnation of the insurrection at the Capitol despite criticism from fellow party members. Both Republican leaders called the violence wrong and unacceptable.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said elected members of the Legislature must continue to speak out.
“We need to keep talking about it,” Billig said. “So we don’t forget and so we can counter the lies that are out there.”