McCune calls for governor’s resignation after nearly 2,000 state employees are fired

Calls Inslee action a shocking abuse of power

OLYMPIA – Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, joined four Republican senators last week in calling for the resignation of Gov. Jay Inslee, following the firing of nearly 2,000 public employees who balked at his order that they be vaccinated for COVID-19.

McCune calls the incident a shocking abuse of power – and says it illustrates the problems with state laws that have allowed the governor to make all decisions in the effort to halt the spread of coronavirus. Gov. Inslee declared a state of emergency on Feb. 29, 2020, under a state law that gives him sweeping authority to suspend laws and issue executive orders.

The law envisioned that emergency authority would last only a short period of time, until the Legislature is called into session to deal with a crisis, McCune explained. But it didn’t work out that way, as the governor refused to call lawmakers back to Olympia during the early months of the pandemic. Lawmakers finally did return in January, for a legislative session required by the state constitution. But majority Democrats in the Legislature promptly passed a resolution extending the governor’s powers indefinitely, over the opposition of all Republicans.

“Now we are seeing what happens when one person calls the shots, and that person behaves irresponsibly,” McCune said. “The Legislature already knew Inslee had an anger-management problem. In 2016, he declared the Legislature had been moving too slow, and that he would punish it by vetoing 27 bills, no matter how important they were or how much work had gone into them. The Legislature had to pass them all over again, one by one, and warn him against doing it again.

“But taking out his temper on hardworking law enforcement officers and state employees goes beyond the pale. To make matters worse, the governor has said these employees will likely be denied unemployment insurance. The rest of us suffer, too, as staffing shortages force ferry runs to be canceled, police patrols to be reduced, and vital state services are impaired.

“I hope everyone realizes this has nothing to do with stopping the spread of COVID. No other state has gone to this extreme. Other states with vaccine mandates have provided options for testing the unvaccinated. There are many who have valid reasons for avoiding vaccination. Those who have suffered a bout of COVID develop natural immunity. The governor made no allowance for that. Others have concerns related to health, their religious beliefs, or resentment about intrusive government mandates.

“The governor has stated he believes he is the only person who can protect the state from COVID, and this grandiose conception has led him to believe he can do no wrong. We are seeing what happens when power is misused.”

McCune cited a statement from a Johns Hopkins University researcher published in the Washington Post arguing that government officials have failed to acknowledge the power of natural immunity. Meanwhile, numerous cases of persons infected following vaccination demonstrate current COVID vaccines do not offer absolute protection, he said. He notes a recent update in recommendations for increased masking from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, following CDC findings that even the vaccinated are able to transmit the Delta variant.

“My decision to call for Inslee’s resignation was not something I took lightly,” McCune said. “Here we have a governor who believes he knows everything there is to know about this illness, when every responsible scientist will acknowledge there is much we don’t. This isn’t about science. It’s about politics. The governor is purging the state payroll of those who reject his authoritarian decrees. He should look himself in the mirror, recognize that he has gone too far, and that he has damaged the public’s trust in government. Then he should do the right thing and resign.”