GOP Senate Leader Disses Inslee Over Death Penalty Moratorium

State Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler is plainly irked over Gov. Jay Inslee’s vow to put a moratorium on the death penalty as long as he’s in office. A death-penalty supporter, Schoesler said the governor had no reason to call for the moratorium and should be more concerned with jobs and budget matters.

“That’s something so far off the public’s radar,” the Ritzville wheat farmer tells Seattle Weekly today. “He’s completely out of touch. I don’t know how that fits into everyday family life and what they are concerned about. I think the public as a whole does see it [the death penalty] as a necessary tool for the most heinous crimes.”

Schoesler continues, “I don’t know what he was thinking? Which of the nine on death row are nice guys?”

Meanwhile, other Republicans insist Inslee usurped the Legislature’s role and is a misuse of his constitutional powers, a clear disagreement with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson who maintains Inslee has the authority to stop executions under the Washington Constitution

Steven O’Ban of Pierce County, has introduced a measure aimed at addressing the blanket moratorium on executions in Washington. “In my judgment, the moratorium is as much a misuse of power as it is a blow to justice for the victims and their families,” the Republican from University Place said in a statement. “The system we have in our state directs the Legislature to decide whether execution is an appropriate penalty for the most horrendous murders, while the governor decides on a case-by-case basis if that penalty has been applied inappropriately.”

O’Ban’s legislation would prohibit a governor from exercising his or her powers of clemency until after receiving a recommendation from the state Clemency and Pardons Board, his bill states this change is necessary in order to avoid “the arbitrary or capricious use of the governor’s pardoning power, the callous disregard of the opinions of victims in the governor’s decision-making process or the potential that the governor could in effect override policy decisions made through the legislative branch.”

Added O’Ban, “Not only did the governor overstep his authority in this matter, he acted without consulting lawmakers or more importantly the families of the victims of these men who committed terrible crimes. The mother of a woman who was raped and stabbed to death by one of these men asked me to read her statement, saying what the governor did was wrong, that the people of Washington voted for the death penalty and if it is going to be rescinded, it needs to be done through a vote of the people. It’s not just up to him.”

At a press conference Wednesday, O’Ban, along with Sen. Kirk Pearson and Rep. Jay Rodne, both of Snohomish County, criticized Inslee’s decision.

“I question the timing of the announcement by the governor. I wonder what his motives are,” Rodne said.

The three believe that if Inslee wanted to halt capital punishment, he should have introduced a bill earlier in the session so committee hearings could have been held. The deadline for such committee hearings passed earlier this week. They argued that the Legislature is the legal and proper place to address death-penalty issues.

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