By Mike Baker Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee may continue allowing the nation’s spy agency to get fake ID cards from the state, with a spokeswoman saying Friday that the governor broadly interprets a bill aimed at giving cover to law enforcement officers.
The proposed law, approved by the Legislature on Friday, limits the distribution of bogus driver’s licenses to officers engaged in “law enforcement activities.” While the CIA is not a law enforcement agency, Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith says the governor broadly interprets the meaning of “law enforcement activities” to include the CIA.
“In terms of the overall bill and policy, the governor has mostly been agnostic,” Smith said. She said Inslee planned to sign the bill into law.
The governor’s stance runs counter to the interpretation of lawmakers earlier this week. Democratic Rep. Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island had said the measure would not allow the CIA to get the ID cards and that the bill was written to target only law enforcement officers because of concerns about why the CIA was using the licenses.
Clibborn said Friday that she understands how the governor is interpreting the language, and said she will continue working on the issue over the coming year. She wants to work with the Department of Licensing more on the policy, wants to see how other states handle it, and wants to make sure that the licenses are being used only for law enforcement activity.
“What you don’t want to be is just unregulated,” Clibborn said.
The fake ID program has been operating without legislative approval — and in relative secrecy — for years. The Kitsap Sun recently reported that the CIA has been utilizing the program more than any federal, state or local agency.
Some Republicans in the state House have expressed concern that the licenses will be provided without sufficient oversight. However, the measure passed the state Senate unanimously Friday.
Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide of Federal Way, who sponsored the legislation, said the law strengthens the state’s control over the licenses. On the issue of whether the CIA would qualify, Eide said that decision would be up to Inslee and the state’s attorney general.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bob Ferguson said it was premature to comment in the legal interpretation of a bill that is not yet law.