Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson was elected by the people to represent our collective interests in legal matters in 2012. He has fulfilled his obligations in a nonpartisan manner.
However, Ferguson, a Democrat, is a politician just as the attorneys general before him were politicians — from Republican Slade Gorton to Republican Ken Eikenberry to Democrat Christine Gregoire to Republican Rob McKenna — but they have all overseen the office as legal representatives of all Washingtonians.
One mandated task of the Attorney General’s Office is to defend voter-approved initiatives (as the will of the people) against legal challenges.
And as legal challenges to the recently approved Initiative 976, which rolls car tabs fees back to $30 and makes other transportation funding cuts, Ferguson and his office are mounting a defense.
But it is the initiative’s sponsor, Tim Eyman, and his supporters who have infused politics into this situation by complaining that Ferguson would not defend I-976 properly. They want outside counsel brought in. Tuesday, supporters of I-976 filed a lawsuit claiming deficiencies in the state’s legal defense of the initiative.
This is nonsensical political grandstanding by Eyman and his supporters.
On Monday, the Attorney General’s Office asked the state Supreme Court to allow the voter-approved car-tab tax cuts to take effect this week, despite a lower-court ruling putting I-976 on hold. The AG filed an emergency motion contending Washington voters’ wishes are being “stymied” by a King County Superior Court judge’s decision to stop I-976 from taking effect while a legal fight over the initiative’s constitutionality plays out in court.
Ferguson is a fine lawyer as are those in his office. They understand the law and their duty to fully defend the will of the voters.
It is Eyman and company who seem to be infusing politics into the process so they can claim foul if the initiative is overturned on constitutional grounds. In addition, it could help Eyman gain more attention for his run for governor in 2020.
While it is clear that Eyman and Ferguson have far different political views — and Ferguson has taken legal action against Eyman — the bottom line is that Ferguson takes his duty as attorney general seriously and will be a vigorous defender of I-976 and the will of the people.
If those efforts fail, it won’t be for lack of a solid legal defense.