In the Matter of the Recall of JAY INSLEE, Governor of the State of Washington.
West appeals from a Thurston County Superior Court judgment
finding the charges in his petition to recall Governor Jay
Inslee to be legally and factually insufficient to submit to
voters. In his recall petition, West alleged the governor was
absent from Washington too frequently and failed to properly
notify the lieutenant governor of these absences, failed to
declare homelessness a statewide emergency, and improperly
campaigned for a ballot initiative. The trial court held that
the charges were factually and legally insufficient. We
December 13, 2018, West filed a petition to recall Governor
Inslee. The Washington State Attorney General's Office
properly prepared a ballot synopsis and petitioned for the
Thurston County Superior Court to determine the sufficiency
of the charges.
ballot synopsis read:
The charge that Jay Inslee, as Governor of Washington,
committed misfeasance, malfeasance, and/or violated his oath
of office alleges:
1. That Governor Inslee abdicated his duties as Governor of
the State of Washington and created a vacancy in that office
by taking 32 trips outside of Washington as of August 2018
and by frequently being absent from the State after that
2. That Governor Inslee maintains a residence on Bainbridge
Island and maintains books, papers, and public records of the
Office of Governor in Washington D.C. in violation of article
III, section 24 of the Washington Constitution;
3. That Governor Inslee failed to ensure environmental,
nuisance, and criminal laws have been faithfully executed
throughout the State, including by the City of Olympia, and
allowed the City of Olympia to usurp the emergency powers of
4. That Governor Inslee failed to use his executive powers to
address homelessness and failed to ensure the integrity and
continuity of government faced with a public health and
5. That Governor Inslee improperly used state resources and
the authority of his office to campaign for an environmental
Should Jay Inslee be recalled from office based on these
Papers (CP) at 38. The trial court approved the ballot
synopsis and found each of the charges to be insufficient to
support a recall. The court also declined to correct the
ballot synopsis as requested by West. West then moved for
reconsideration and filed a notice of appeal.
voters may recall any elected, nonjudicial public officer who
"has committed some act or acts of malfeasance or
misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his [or her]
oath of office." Wash. Const, art. I, § 33. The
recall process is governed by RCW 29A.56.110 through .140.
elected official can be recalled only for cause, meaning the
petition must be factually and legally sufficient.
Chandler v. Otto, 103 Wn.2d 268, 274, 693 P.2d 71
(1984). Whether the charges are factually and legally
sufficient is determined by the superior court where the
officer subject to recall resides. RCW 29A.56.130-.140. The
court must determine sufficiency from the face of the
petition. In re Recall of Zufelt, 112 Wn.2d 906,
914, 774 P.2d 1223 (1989).
recall '"charge, taken as a whole . . ., must be
specific enough to give the elected official meaningful
notice of the particular conduct challenged and why it is
grounds for recall.'" In re Recall of
Pepper, 189 Wn.2d 546, 553, 403 P.3d 839 (2017)
(alteration in original) (quoting In re Recall of
Boldt, 187 Wn.2d 542, 549, 386 P.3d 1104 (2017)). In
recall cases, courts do not consider the truth of the
charges, only the sufficiency. RCW 29A.56.140; In re
Recall of Lindquist, 172 Wn.2d 120, 131-32, 258 P.3d 9
court reviews the sufficiency of a recall petition de novo.
Teaford v. Howard, 104 Wn.2d 580, 590, 707 P.2d 1327
(1985). A charge is factually sufficient if the facts
"establish a prima facie case of misfeasance,
malfeasance, or violation of the oath of office" and are
"stated in concise language and provide a detailed
description" in order to "enable the electorate and
a challenged official to make informed decisions."
In re Recall of Wasson, 149 Wn.2d 787, 791, 72 P.3d
170 (2003) (citing Cole v. Webster, 103 Wn.2d 280,
285, 692 P.2d 799 (1984); Chandler, 103 Wn.2d at
274). The petitioner must have some knowledge of the facts
underlying the charges. In re Recall of Ackerson,
143 Wn.2d 366, 372, 20 P.3d 930 (2001). Where the charge
alleges the official violated the law, the facts must show
the official intended to do so. In re Recall of
Wade, 115 Wn.2d 544, 549, 799 P.2d 1179 (1990).
charge is legally sufficient if it defines "substantial
conduct clearly amounting to misfeasance, malfeasance or a
violation of the oath of office" and there is no legal
justification for the challenged conduct. Wasson,
149 Wn.2d at 791-92.
29A.56.110 defines ...