Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C-SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital won’t lose nearly $50 million in federal funding -- for now. On Friday morning, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a 13-month turnaround agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Federal prosecutors say they intend to retry Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley after his first trial ended in April with the jury voting to acquit on one count and deadlocked on 14 others.

Lead prosecutor Andrew Friedman revealed the government’s intentions at a Tuesday morning status conference in the case at the federal courthouse in Tacoma. District Judge Ronald Leighton set a March 13, 2017 trial date.

Last month, a federal jury acquitted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley of lying to IRS agents, but deadlocked on 14 other charges related to his past real estate services business. Kelley will be back in court on Tuesday when a hearing could provide an answer to what happens next in the case.

It’s been five months since Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that over a 13-year period nearly 3,000 prison inmates were accidentally released early. Wednesday, Washington Senate Republicans issued a 66-page report that places significant blame for the problem not being fixed on former corrections Secretary Bernie Warner.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The candidacy of Donald Trump for president is the talk of the nation. But there’s at least one person who doesn’t want to talk about it: Washington’s Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant.

The highly-organized Washington campaign for Ted Cruz all but swept the delegate elections at the state GOP convention in Pasco over the weekend.

That means Cruz backers will dominate Washington state’s delegation to the Republican national convention in Cleveland this July, although they’ll be bound on the first ballot based on the outcome of Washington's presidential primary on Tuesday.

Washington Republicans will meet in the Tri-Cities Friday to select delegates to this summer’s national convention in Cleveland. They are describing this year’s presidential campaign as “a Reagan restart” and “an outsider’s election.”

Washington Republicans will ultimately coalesce around Donald Trump as the apparent presidential nominee. That’s the prediction of state Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison as her party gathers Wednesday for its state convention in the Tri-Cities.

‘Tis the season for campaign fundraising. That means candidates are dialing for cash and hosting at all manner of events to bring in the money. Some of them tried and true approaches and some a bit more novel.

A University of Washington study concluded about 30 football fields worth of marijuana are needed to serve the medical marijuana market in Washington. That translates to about two million square feet of canopy.

Currently, more than 12 million square feet are approved for production.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is back on the job after his federal criminal trial. And he’s firing back at Gov. Jay Inslee.

Last week Kelley asked for the resignation of his chief of staff and chief spokesman. Inslee demanded an explanation for the firings. Now Kelley has responded.

Drivers on Interstate 90 through eastern Washington won’t be able to legally go 75 miles per hour. That was the announcement Wednesday from the Washington Department of Transportation, the State Patrol and the state’s Traffic Safety Commission.

When apparent Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump did a pre-primary campaign swing through the Northwest last weekend, he hopped between Eugene, Spokane and Bellingham aboard a Boeing 757 emblazoned with the word TRUMP in capital letters.

What do Realtors, teachers and unionized plumbers have in common?

According to Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, these groups control the top political action committees in the state so far this year. So what exactly are they after?

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is demanding a formal explanation after State Auditor Troy Kelley asked two top staff members to resign and put a third on administrative leave. The shake-up follows Kelley’s full-time return to the office after his six-week federal trial.

If an Idaho state trooper stops an Idaho driver just across the Washington state line and a lawsuit ensues—whose case is it? The Washington Supreme Court Thursday said it’s basically a legal coin toss. 

Testing for lead in Washington schools is still voluntary seven years after the state passed rules to make it mandatory. That’s because state lawmakers never provided funding to pay for the testing.

The stories are heartbreaking. An infant rolls off a bed and suffocates on a plastic bag. A one-month-old dies while sleeping between two adults.

According to a report on child fatalities released Friday by Washington state’s Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds, unsafe sleep conditions are the leading cause of death for infants in whose families have come into contact with the child welfare system.

On the eve of a two-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, former Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said she’s confident the tunneling project under Seattle’s waterfront will ultimately succeed.

The viaduct is closing to allow the tunnel-boring machine known as Bertha to dig underneath the double-decker structure. Under the original timeline the tunnel was supposed to be open by now and the viaduct long ago torn down.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley hugged and kissed his wife and shook his lawyers' hands as he was found not guilty Tuesday on a charge of making a false statement to the IRS. A federal jury in Tacoma deadlocked on the remaining 14 counts, including charges of possession of stolen property, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

The dramatic turn of events followed nearly four days of deliberations and comes almost exactly a year after Kelley was indicted by a federal grand jury. Prosecutors did not immediately indicate if they intend to re-try Kelley on any of the charges.

The jury in the federal criminal trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley appears to be struggling to find agreement on at least one of the 15 counts. The jurors sent a question to the judge Monday asking what to do if they deadlock on a charge.

A Washington daycare provider has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Working Connections Child Care program to the tune of $250,000. The plea was entered Thursday in federal court in Seattle.

The state cracked down on these cases five years ago and this is the biggest one yet.

After a nearly six week trial, the guilt or acquittal of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley rests with a jury of seven men and five women. The case went to the jury late Wednesday afternoon following lengthy closing arguments by the prosecution and defense.

After nearly six weeks, the jury in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley will hear closing arguments Wednesday and then retire to decide the case.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton dismissed one of the false declaration charges against Kelley on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to introduce sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable jury to convict on that particular charge.

However, the judge denied a defense motion for a judgment of acquittal on all of the charges and declared the case will go to the jury.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is not expected to testify in his real estate services and fraud trial.

Instead, the first-term Democrat is counting on his defense team to convince a jury to acquit him of an array of charges that include possession of stolen funds, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg wants to make his office nonpartisan. The Republican said he will ask the county council to send a charter amendment to voters this fall.

After five weeks, the end of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley's trial is in sight. Defense attorney Angelo Calfo has spiced up the at times eye-glazing real estate services and tax fraud trial with surprises.

After opening statements, Calfo moved for a mistrial. After the prosecution rested, he moved for most of the charges to be dismissed. The judge rejected both ploys.

Then on Thursday, Calfo did something that can fairly be called unusual for a criminal proceeding: he called as a defense witness the lead FBI agent on the case.

The prosecution has rested its case in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley and the defense called its first witness Wednesday morning. But before that came a dramatic courtroom moment.

Egyptian cotton sheets, meals with his campaign manager and a trip to Paris for his wife, a French professor. These are among the “disallowed’ tax deductions Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley claimed on his business tax filings during the years 2011 and 2012.

Tax issues have taken center stage in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley Tuesday, as an IRS agent and Kelley’s defense attorney sparred over whether Kelley broke tax laws.

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