by David Ammons | March 23rd, 2010
Washington’s governor, Chris Gregoire, and state Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is widely viewed as a gubernatorial contender in 2012, are clashing over the newly passed federal health care legislation.
McKenna plans to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Gregoire, an ally of the president’s and sometimes mentioned as a future Cabinet pick, says McKenna “doesn’t represent the people of Washington” on this and doesn’t have her blessings to file in the name of the state.
Democrat Gregoire was Republican McKenna’s predecessor as three-term attorney general and the two have gotten along famously for most of the past six years. The other day they linked arms to help kick off a campaign for a constituti0nal amendment for bail reform in the wake of the Lakewood police slayings. But on the question of using Washington’s name to challenge the federal health care bill, they’re miles apart. The governor says McKenna didn’t consult with her, that she opposes his lawsuit, and will fight him on it. McKenna, a separately elected official and the state’s chief lawyer, says it’s his call, and that he wants to protect Washingtonians from unconstitutional provisions of the new bill.
It would appear that taxpayers will be tapped to pay for lawyers to argue both sides of this litigation. That’s not without precedent, but pretty unusual.