SNOHOMISH — The Stag Barber has a new character in his ongoing soap opera. And this one is straight out of Texas.
Rick Martin stuck out among the dozen guys in T-shirts and ball caps waiting for haircuts Tuesday outside the shop that has been operating illegally for a month.
He wore cowboy boots and a long overcoat. Shoulder-length blond hair spilled from under a white cowboy hat.
But Martin, 50, wasn’t there for a haircut.
He said he drove from Texas to defend barber Bob Martin (the two men are not related), who has reopened in open defiance of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order.
According to the state of Washington, the barber is unlicensed and non-essential. Last week, the Attorney General’s Office sent the barber a letter saying he had 48 hours to close up shop or he’d face legal action.
“They have no lawful authority,” said Rick Martin, who doesn’t have a law degree.
“I’m not a bar (association) attorney. I’m a constitutional lawyer. If anybody comes at him, I am coming right back with teeth.”
He flashed a smile showing he has a full set.
Rick Martin said a friend of the barber contacted him for his help and that contributions are funding the cause. The Texan started a ReOpening America campaign with a GoFundMe page that has raised $4,000 of a $75,000 goal.
Earlier this month, the Snohomish Health District sent Bob Martin, 79, a certified letter directing him to immediately stop all appointments or face the possibility of criminal charges.
”The district is working with our attorney on the next steps,” Heather Thomas, the county’s health district spokesperson, said Tuesday.
The state suspended the barber’s cosmetology operator license and served him with a cease-and-desist order for doing business without a salon shop license. His license for the shop expired March 10, 2017.
The barber said he plans to continue cutting hair at the shop, where gloves, masks and social distancing guidelines are not in effect.
“I have a limited role in this if any,” Snohomish Mayor John Kartak said. “The governor has suspended civil liberties in the face of an emergency.”
He and the barber go way back. “I have known Robert Martin as a friend for many years,” Kartak said. “He has cut my hair on many occasions, but not during the COVID-19 crisis.”
An Arlington gym that reopened May 11 closed eight days later after the state attorney general filed a lawsuit. “We would lose,” a co-owner of PA Fitness conceded.