News Roundup

The GOP Health Care Plan, Deadline to Declare, and a Lawyer's Comments on Murray Case

Washington state's Republicans are divided on the GOP health care plan.

By Hayat Norimine May 4, 2017

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1. How Does the State's Congressional Republicans Stand on the GOP Health Care Bill?

The second push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act championed by former U.S. president Barack Obama is under way. The GOP legislation is expected to make it to the floor later today after adding $8 billion to the plan for pre-existing conditions to win moderate votes. Here's how the state's Congressional Republicans say they're voting:

Yes: Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside. 

No: Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas. 

No: Dave Reichert of Issaquah, as of 9:30am Pacific Time, according to King5 News.

Updated 11:52am: Newhouse was the only representative who abstained from the vote, which narrowly passed 217-213, according to The New York Times. Newhouse's spokesman, Will Boyington, said he had to miss the vote due to a family emergency in the state. 

2. May 19 Deadline to Declare Looms

There's certainly room for more, with a lawsuit against Seattle mayor Ed Murray that continues to cloud his reelection campaign. Time is running out for a politically established, business-friendly candidate to declare in the mayoral race.

Former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan hasn't responded to calls on whether she plans on running; neither has the Seattle Chamber of Commerce or council president Bruce Harrell. (Murray's been clear that he intends to stay in the race so far, but in the event of that changing, Harrell could also assume the mayorship.)

Durkan and Chamber of Commerce CEO Maud Daudon have both been names thrown out every few years as potential candidates in previous elections. If they are interested—and depending on how many supporters Murray would lose—this year could be an opportune moment for high-profile women to join the race. Bertha Knight Landes, who served as mayor 90 years ago, was not only Seattle's sole female mayor. She's also the only woman in Seattle to have made it through the primary.

3. What One Lawyer Has to Say About the Murray Case

"The one thing that I do not like to see has nothing to do with the press," said Bill Bailey, UW School of Law professor. "I did not like to see the ethical complaint filed against Mr. Beauregard. It is very bothersome to me. I do not like it when lawyers try to manipulate that to try to get the opposing counsel in trouble."

I had asked Bailey about the media's role in the case—whether they're being manipulated, and whether there's anything that was published that shouldn't have been. Bailey just responded that there's a symbiotic relationship between partisan attorneys and journalists. But there's a legitimate public interest, he said.

"I think we're pretty restrained here in Seattle," Bailey said, and pointed to the 2008 Seattle Times decision not to report on allegations against Murray. On the op-ed written by Murray, and published in The Stranger, Bailey said it was an abuse of power on Murray's part to leverage his position (knowing it'd get published because it had news value) for advantage in litigation. 

"I don’t think that was incorrect by the press, because we have to weigh freedom of speech and that’s a cherished tradition," Bailey said. 

He said seeking sanctions against an opposing counsel makes the entire legal system look bad and disparages the profession itself. Two other lawyers, of course, feel differently—having filed declaration in support of the sanctions, who said Beauregard's behavior was unusual and unethical. Sanctions can be imposed in cases where attorneys filed frivolous claims, which is what Murray's attorneys are alleging. A Superior Court judge will review those motions Thursday. Attorney Bob Sulkin didn't respond to comment Wednesday. 

"I know there are a bunch of good people that are working very hard to make sure that we are worthy of the public’s trust. Someone who uses the press to make the system look bad, I just don’t like it," Bailey said. "That’s the one thing that’s happened thus far that really strikes me as out of bounds."

Updated May 4, 2017, at 5:42pm: This article corrects the process of the motion for sanctions and includes that two other lawyers filed declarations in support of the sanctions.

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