In a scramble to pass a sweeping new measure to require universal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers before a Wednesday deadline, Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic state representatives cannot afford to stumble.

Yet, on Monday, stumble Inslee did.

With the 5:00 p.m. Wednesday cutoff fast approaching for bills to be approved in their house of origin, Inslee enlisted shooting victim former U.S. Rep. and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords to whip votes from both parties in the Legislature for House Bill 1588.

To assist in the effort, Inslee handed over a list of House Republican members’ personal cell phone numbers including one owned by state Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) whose vote is desperately needed by Democrats to pass the gun control bill.

A call made to Walsh’s cell phone by Giffords generated a less-than-warm response from Walsh. KING-5 South Sound bureau chief Drew Mikkelsen reports: [emph. added]

“I have no animosity towards Representative Giffords,” said Walsh. “In the future if somebody’s going to give away my personal cell phone number, I’d appreciate if they get my permission first.”

Walsh, a Republican from Walla Walla, said Governor Jay Inslee told her he shared Walsh’s number with Giffords. House Republican J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) mentioned the unauthorized transfer  of Walsh’s digits on his Twitter feed:

Inslee’s office said that the Governor apologized to Walsh for releasing her number and implied that they were not aware it was given supposed to have been kept private. But that’s not the opinion of Kevin Carns, a House Republican staff member who posted to his personal Facebook page that the caucus had cleared giving Inslee a list of members’ personal phone numbers in December, only with the explicit understanding that they were for his personal use and so that he could make introductory phone calls to legislators prior to his inauguration.

State Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) was seen as a potential cross-over vote on HB 1588 when she initially signed onto the bill in February, but more recently switched back to a “no” vote after hearing from gun owners.

As of midday Tuesday, Democrats are saying publicly that they are at least three votes shy of passing HB 1588.

Some might see irony in the public carelessness of Inslee or his office with the private information of elected officials occurring in their handling of a piece of legislation that would give the government custody of sensitive information about individual gun licensees and applicants.


[featured image credit: flickr]