Austin Jenkins | KNKX

Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

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.

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Under pressure to step down following a new allegation of sexual misconduct, Republican state legislator Matt Manweller on Monday said that he would resign his seat if re-elected this November. 

House Republican leaders on Friday called on embattled state Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Cle-Elum) to resign. The move followed the publication of a story by the public radio Northwest News Network earlier in the day detailing an alleged sexual relationship between Manweller and a 17-year-old former high school student of his in 1997.

A former Idaho high school student of embattled Washington legislator and longtime educator Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Cle Elum) says she had a sexual relationship with him beginning after she graduated in 1997, when she was 17 years old and he was a decade her senior. Under Idaho state law at the time, sex between an adult male and a female younger than 18 constituted statutory rape.

As teachers in a record number of Washington school districts strike this week, a top official with their union says the unwillingness of superintendents and school boards to negotiate higher pay raises for teachers is a crime. 

"It's wage theft," said Stephen Miller, vice president of the Washington Education Association (WEA), Thursday in an interview on TVW's "Inside Olympia" program. "They are taking wages away from public employees."

On a recent evening in Vancouver, Washington, more than 80 people gathered at the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They were there for a forum organized by a fledging group of moms whose severely mentally ill children have struggled to get the help they need in Washington state — sometimes with deadly consequences.

“We are all part of a tribe that we have joined whether we wanted to or not,” mother Jerri Clark told the packed room.

Washington state Rep. Matt Manweller “engaged in a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior” with current and former female students at Central Washington University (CWU) over a 13-year period, according to an 85-page investigative report released by the university on Wednesday.

A Republican state representative from eastern Washington is drawing attention after comments he made about the media at a pro-gun rally over the weekend. 

At the "Liberty or Death" event on Saturday in Spokane, Republican Matt Shea of Spokane Valley, who's currently seeking a sixth term in office, said "a lot of people in the media" are guilty of smear campaigns, innuendo and implication.

"And I want to tell you something about that," Shea told the crowd. "We can't become those dirty, godless, hateful people. We have to uphold free speech no matter what." 

Last March, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced the resignation of one of his longest-serving cabinet members, Employment Security Department head Dale Peinecke. A workplace misconduct investigation had found that over the five years Peinecke worked in state government, he made some staff uncomfortable and was “vulnerable to claims of harassment with sexual overtones.”

For years, mentally ill inmates in this state have languished in county jails awaiting state evaluations to determine if they're competent to stand trial.

But according to a legal settlement announced this Thursday, people with mental illness who are caught up in Washington state’s criminal justice system would get more services.

In cases when inmates are found not competent, they often wait weeks or months more to get a bed at a state hospital.

Central Washington University on Tuesday fired Republican state Rep. Matt Manweller from his position as a tenured professor of political science following a months-long investigation into his conduct toward students. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

This story was updated Wednesday at 5:44 p.m. with results from the Pierce County prosecutor's race.

Early primary results are confirming many of the expectations of those closely watching the races. But they also seem to speak broadly about Democrats' chances in Washington going into November.

Embattled Democratic state Rep. David Sawyer of Tacoma was in third place in early primary returns Tuesday night, an indication of the political fallout he’s facing over numerous allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women and an investigation that found he violated House harassment policy. 

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington state in 2012 resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of people sentenced for marijuana-related felonies, according to an analysis conducted for public radio by the Washington State Caseload Forecast Council.

The past eight months have been a whirlwind of victories for Tarra Simmons—an honors law school graduate with a criminal past.

In response to the #MeToo movement, the Washington state Senate will create a new human resources officer position to investigate complaints of harassment and other workplace misconduct, replacing a previous system of “facilitators” who served as a go-to resource for victims.

It’s the agony of modern day parents: how to find and afford decent child care. This has become such a problem, the Washington Legislature has created a task force to tackle the issue.

In the aftermath of a recent workplace conduct investigation at the state Capitol, the Democratic lawmaker at the heart of the inquiry and one of his accusers say the process has revealed flaws in how the Legislature handles complaints made against elected officials.

This week is the deadline for initiative backers in Washington and Oregon to submit their petitions to the Secretary of State’s office.

Calling former Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley "as unrepentant as any defendant in memory," federal prosecutors are asking that a judge sentence him to more than seven years in federal prison when he is sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

What caused 44-year-old Tim Day to go on a carjacking and shooting spree on Father’s Day that left one man critically wounded?

The pastor of the Oakville, Washington Assembly of God church said he was trying to protect his family and the public when he drew his concealed pistol and shot a gunman on Father’s Day.

David George cried at times as he spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the shooting.

Austin Jenkins via twitter

A suspected gunman is dead after a shooting spree in Tumwater that injured at least two people.

The alleged shooter fired multiple shots inside a crowded Walmart, sending customers fleeing.

He then tried to hijack two cars in the parking lot, where he was shot and killed by an armed bystander, according to Tumwater police.

The gunman had shot the man while attempting to hijack his car. 

The carjacking victim was flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.

What should a 21st century public school system look like? Washington’s superintendent of public instruction says it’s time to have that conversation now that the state’s decade-long school funding legal fight is over.

What should a 21st century public school system look like? Washington’s superintendent of public instruction says it’s time to have that conversation now that the state’s decade-long school funding legal fight is over.

Washington House leaders are recommending that state Rep. David Sawyer, D-Tacoma, lose his chairmanship, but are not demanding he resign from the Legislature, following the findings of an external investigation into his conduct that could also result in an ethics probe.

Two candidates for the Washington Supreme Court have been disqualified from appearing on the November ballot.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Facebook and Google for campaign finance violations. The lawsuits filed Monday allege the companies failed to keep records about who purchased political advertising from them.


In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and staff dead, the state of Washington established a “work group” on mass shootings. It will hold its third meeting on Tuesday.






Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital is no longer in immediate jeopardy of losing federal funding.

Federal inspectors have found serious safety violations at Western State Hospital that could increase the chances of patient suicides. The finding this week has the potential to further imperil $65 million in annual federal funding the state receives to operate the 857-bed psychiatric hospital near Tacoma.

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