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.

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.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he takes responsibility for his office’s failure to preserve emails related to the deadly 2014 Oso landslide. The Democrat issued a statement Tuesday after a judge vowed to impose a “significant monetary sanction” over the deleted emails.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is on the air with his first TV ad of the general election. His Republican challenger Bill Bryant hopes to hit the airwaves soon -- but money is an issue.

It’s not just President Obama who’s had his citizenship questioned. So has Washington’s Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Cyrus Habib. It happened at a pro-gun rally last weekend and Democrats posted the video to YouTube.

Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital has been plagued by ineffective management, staff reductions and turnover. That’s according to a “root cause analysis” report released Thursday.

There’s a lot of talk about “dark money” in politics these days. That’s money raised and spent by so-called “social welfare” organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.

But sometimes these groups will reveal who’s giving them money -- if you ask.