The seven-member State Senate’s Facilities and Operation’s Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a special budget authorization that allows the Secretary of the Senate, Brad Hendrickson, to hire an independent investigator to look into an allegation of rape against state Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn.
Fain, a prominent state Republican who represents the 47th Legislative District, which encompasses the cities of Auburn, Kent and Renton, has denied the allegation and called for an investigation into the claim.
“We are all aware of the serious allegation made against Sen. Fain,” began Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, who made the motion. “This incident allegedly took place prior to Sen. Fain’s election to the Legislature, and is not covered under our normal policies for respectful workplace behavior, and does not clearly fall under any existing policy.
“As a result … we request that the (secretary of the Senate) hire an investigator, preferably with experience in the area of sexual assault, to review the allegations,” Nelson told the four Democrats and three Republicans that compose the committee, which met via conference call.
The as-yet-to-be-chosen investigator will report back to the Senate by Dec. 14, but by no later than Dec. 31.
In late September, Candace Faber, a former foreign service officer and an employee of Seattle’s Information Technology Department, said Fain had raped her in a Washington, D.C., hotel room in 2007, following a night of drinking that celebrated her graduation from Georgetown University.
Faber first made the allegation in a tweet and later posted her story on Medium.
“We feel that the hiring of an independent third party provides the most potential for a fair, non-partisan and comprehensive outcome that is satisfactory to everyone involved,” Nelson and Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said in a joint press release.
Do a good job, said State Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, but tread carefully.
“We are kind of treading uncharted waters here because the incident happened before (Fain) was ever a senator and the allegation was made of the event, and the event was out of state,” Braun said. “So we have to be careful of what we look at there. We need an investigation to take a look at this, and once the facts are in, then we’ll decide what we need to do.
“… And once (we have selected an investigator),” Braun continued, “how do we give guidance specifically on what we want them to do, so that we get a thoughtful, credible and useful investigation that allows us to take reasonable action?”
Hendrickson responded that he will work with the state attorney’s office to draw up a list of potential investigators and vet them with leaders before making the selection.
Because Fain, 37, is locked with Covington Democrat Mona Das in a tight battle for reelection to his Senate seat with less than 100 votes separating the two as of Wednesday, the question arose: Would the investigation continue if Fain should lose the election and is no longer a senator by the time the report comes out?
“In that case, we would have to review further the situation as far as the need for an investigation, but right now, we want to get this moving,” Nelson said.
Fain responded to this development with the following statement to the Associated Press on Thursday.
“While this episode has caused incredible stress and pain for my family, I have repeatedly sought a fair and respectful process that will allow me to clear my name and move on,” Fain said.