Washington Senate Leaders Ask Governor to Audit Columbia River Crossing

Washington's Republican majority caucus is asking Gov. Jay Inslee for an independent audit of the Columbia River Crossing, adding to the political pressures on the megaproject.

In a two-page letter, sent today and obtained by WW, requests that Inslee start a formal and fully independent audit of the $3.4 billion Interstate 5 highway and light rail project based on the work of outside forensic auditors.

"The findings by these experts strongly indicate massive cost overruns, potential violations of state and federal regulations, and a pattern of misinforming both the public and the officials who represent them," the letter reads.

Vancouver forensic accountant Tiffany Couch (who is paid by wealthy anti-CRC activist and Clark County Commissioner David Madore) has issued six audits calling various aspects of the project's spending and accountability into question.

The Senate majority coalition caucus office says it hired a Jefferson County, Wash., auditor to look at Couch's work. That auditor also found the CRC's practices suspect.

The Republicans also ask that the auditor not be affiliated in any way with the Washington State Department of Transportation, nor with any of the contracting groups affiliated with any state megaproject.

Inslee's new transportation secretary, Lynn Peterson (who served as Kitzhaber's transportation and sustainability adviser), ordered an audit last month. But Republicans cried foul, the Associated Press reported, as the man picked to conduct the audit is a former WSDOT employee who has received $2.4 million from the CRC.

The letter is signed by Senate Majority Whip Ann Rivers (R-LaCenter), Senate Majority leader Rodney Tom and Republican Caucus Leader Mark Schoesler. It notes the Senate is on day 89 of a 105-day session and asks that Inslee reply by April 17.

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