Former Gov. Chris Gregoire and UW President Cauce were references for Joe Fain CEO hire
Christine Gregoire, the former Washington state governor, and Ana Mari Cauce, the current University of Washington president, were contacted as references for former state Sen. Joe Fain during his hiring process as Bellevue Chamber of Commerce CEO.
Fain served two terms as a Republican state senator from Auburn before he lost his 2018 re-election to Democrat Mona Das. About a month before Election Day, Fain was accused of a rape dating back to 2007 by Candace Faber, a former Seattle city official.
Fain has denied the allegation and called for an investigation. Faber also called for an investigation, though she did not make a police report. The state Senate authorized such an investigation late last year, but canceled it after Fain lost his race.
On Feb. 14, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce announced it had hired Fain as its new CEO. Spokespersons for both Gregoire and Cauce confirmed that the two leaders had served as references during the hiring process.
"President Cauce has known Joe Fain for many years and when the chamber contacted her she spoke about what she had firsthand knowledge about, such as his work in the Legislature and as an advocate for higher education," Michelle Ma, a spokesperson for Cauce, said by email.
Cauce had been contacted by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce in late January, Ma said — roughly four months after the rape accusation became public.
Faber, the woman who accused Fain of rape, has served as guest faculty at the University of Washington Information School since 2016.
Josh Marti, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce board chair, said in a statement that anyone alleging sexual assault deserves to be heard and treated with fairness, and said that the Chamber would support an investigation into the allegations against Fain.
"In the absence of a conclusion from an official investigation, we did our due diligence via a thorough interview and reference process," Marti's statement read.
"This included interviewing and seeking feedback from a large number of people who have known or worked with Joe over the years," the statement continued. "They consistently spoke to his track record as a very effective bipartisan leader, advocate, and problem solver – and to his character."
Neither Cauce nor Gregoire were available for further comment.