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caption: State Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), center, greets supporters at a breakfast campaign event with state Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), left, on Oct. 14, 2018.
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State Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), center, greets supporters at a breakfast campaign event with state Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), left, on Oct. 14, 2018.
KUOW Photo/Sydney Brownstone

Senators approve hiring investigator to look into rape allegation against Auburn lawmaker

More than a month after a Seattle woman accused a state senator of raping her in 2007, a state Senate committee voted this morning to hire an outside investigator to look into the allegation.

In late September, hours after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford detailed being sexual assaulted by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a woman tweeted that Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) raped her .

Fain, a moderate Republican running for re-election in south King County, has denied Faber's allegation and since called for an investigation, though one did not surface before Election Day.

The woman, Candace Faber, also called on state officials to investigate. She has not filed a criminal complaint.

"I was the first to call for an investigation the day I learned of this accusation and I continue to strongly deny the allegation," Fain said in a statement. "While this episode has caused incredible stress and pain for my family, I have repeatedly sought a fair and respectful process that will allow me to clear my name and move on.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Fain's margin over his Democrat opponent was just 90 votes — leading to a likely recount.

"Since the race is essentially tied, the decision was made to go forward," a spokesperson for the Senate's Democratic leadership told KUOW on Wednesday. "If he loses, no one will be hired."

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) motioned to hire an investigator who would review the allegations and report back to the state Senate later than December 31.

In a joint statement with Senate minority leader Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), Sens. Nelson and Schoesler said the Senate has "grappled" with an appropriate response to Faber's allegation.

"The allegation pre-dates Sen. Fain’s time in the Legislature and therefore falls outside standard procedures for an allegation of this nature," their statement read.

The statement continued: “We feel that the hiring of an independent third party provides the most potential for a fair, non-partisan and comprehensive outcome that is satisfactory to everyone involved.”

Brad Hendrickson, Secretary of the Senate, said he intended to discuss a shortlist of investigators with Senate counsel.

"We've already had some preliminary discussions and are looking at some possible names and should be in touch with leaders with a possible recommendation," he said.

Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Cle Elum), another state lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct, won his re-election campaign by a landslide this week after his colleagues in the Legislature had asked him to resign. Manweller has denied the allegations, but promised to resign after his election, ensuring that a Republican would be appointed to his seat.

This story has been updated with a statement from Sen. Fain.

Correction, 11/8/18, 3:38 p.m.: The timing of the investigator's report has been corrected.

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