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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Sunday Spin2: What questions are OK to ask lobbyists

Newly elected Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, raised some eyebrows and made headlines by asking some teens lobbying in support of Planned Parenthood whether they were virgins. She later said she may have been trying to be more motherly than the teens would have expected for a state representative, adding “if anything I said offended them or made them feel uncomfortable, I apologize.”

Some were appalled, others have chalked it up to a rookie mistake, and still others seem to feel  Dye was perfectly within her rights because the teens were lobbying for an organization that offers contraceptives. You go asking a legislator for support, you should be prepared for the tough questions, those folks have said.

If that’s the case, ask yourself if a legislator would be within his or her right to ask lobbyists from the liquor, beer or wine industries how many are alcoholics? Or members of the beef industry and the fast food franchise owners if they’ve needed to have their arteries unclogged? Or reps of the soft drink distributors or candy manufacturers who has diabetes? Or ask for a show of hands among tobacco industry lobbyists who’s had lung cancer or a heart attack? Or quiz folks from the state medical association how many malpractice suits they’ve lost?

Even if you think any or all of those questions would be a fine idea, let’s admit any such questions are extremely unlikely ever to be posed because those are groups with clout in Olympia. Teens, not so much.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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