I was dismayed by the quality of journalism in the News Tribune’s Oct. 23 articles on Jake Fey and Laurie Jinkins. (“Fey takes advantage of ‘retire-rehire’ system” and “Jinkins’ candidacy for state House may violate federal act, say critics.”)
The information in these articles has long been available, and the articles appear timed to simply harm both candidates. If these two stories were intended to inform voters, they should have appeared sooner – not a week after ballots were sent out and some 39,000 Pierce County voters had already returned them.
Worse, the articles were misleading. Despite the headline’s implication of wrongdoing, Fey did nothing unethical. He planned his retirement well.
Further, the article on Jinkins did not contain a balanced discussion of the issues involved. Specifically, the article cited the opinions of two lawyers and stated that “other lawyers familiar with the law have specifically advised” that the Hatch Act applies to the kind of duties Jinkins performs.
Adding Fey’s opinion (“From my read, it looks to me like she potentially violated the act,”) sheds no light on the legal issues, and provides no balance, either. While Jinkins was quoted providing a legal justification that her campaign is not in violation of federal law, the article would have been more complete if another view on the legal issues involved had been sought out and included.
Dedicated public servants like Fey and Jinkins deserve better than ill-timed and distracting articles like these, and the News Tribune usually does better.