Austin Jenkins

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

A political action committee largely funded by three wealthy Washingtonians has unleashed a hard-hitting attack on a state Supreme Court justice up for re-election. The TV ad suggests Justice Charlie Wiggins is soft on crime.

A trio of wealthy Washingtonians has just put $350,000 into an effort to defeat a sitting state Supreme Court justice. Their target is Charlie Wiggins who’s been on the court since 2011.

Washington’s race for governor is a lopsided affair. Incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee has a three-to-one fundraising advantage over Republican challenger Bill Bryant. And polls show Inslee with a 10 point lead.

But that’s not stopping Bryant from trying to make the campaign a referendum on Inslee’s leadership.

Gun rights and gun control advocates are reacting to the first prosecution under Washington’s Initiative 594, the 2014 law that requires a background check for person-to-person gun sales.

The case involves a former Oak Harbor, Washington, resident named Mark Mercado who allegedly gave or sold a .22-caliber pistol to an acquaintance last November. Prosecutors said that gun was then used a day later in the murder of 17-year-old John Skyler Johnson, known as “Jay.”

In what’s believed to be the first prosecution under a 2014 voter-approved background check law, a former Oak Harbor, Washington, resident has been charged with illegally transferring a .22-caliber pistol that was later used in a homicide.

The practice of automatically charging 16 and 17-year-olds as adults for serious crimes is coming under scrutiny. The issue will come up Monday at a youth justice conference in Seattle and Tuesday during a Washington Supreme Court hearing.

If you live in western Washington, chances are you get your power or your natural gas or both from Puget Sound Energy. The state’s largest utility company serves more than a million customers in 10 counties.

But it’s not just energy that PSE trades in. The company also helps power campaigns and elections in Washington through political contributions.

A police officer who was bitten in the genitals by a police dog is not entitled to sue for damages without first proving negligence. That was the decision Thursday from a narrowly divided Washington Supreme Court.

The floodgates have opened on negative campaign spending in Washington state. Just since October 1, more than $800,000 has been spent -- mostly to defeat candidates for the state legislature.

A political tornado is swirling toward western Washington's 30th Legislative District. It’s swallowing up money from political action committees and pummeling voters and the candidates with attack ads.

And the path the twister takes could determine control of the Washington state House.

This year, a pair of wealthy southwest Washington businessmen have emerged as major donors to state Republicans. Billionaire investor Ken Fisher and developer Clyde Holland are stepping up their contributions as control of the Washington legislature hangs in the balance.

Some Northwest Republicans are denouncing and in some cases distancing themselves from Donald Trump because of his lewd comments about women.

But not all.

The Service Employees International Union has invested more than $1 million in trying to help Democrats win control of the Washington legislature this year. That makes SEIU the single largest donor on the Democratic side.

So what does the union want in return for its investment?

The race for Washington lands commissioner pits an environmental lawyer against a supporter of two imprisoned Oregon ranchers. Both candidates are relatively unknown to voters.

Washington’s Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant has unveiled his first TV ad of the general election. It comes the same week Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee hit the airwaves with his first ad.