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 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.

The state of Washington has struck a deal with the feds to keep Western State Hospital open and funded. The Department of Social and Health Services announced late Thursday that it will negotiate a Systems Improvement Agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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.

A southwest Washington mill owner has been sentenced to six months in prison for trafficking in bigleaf maple that was later sold to guitar makers. Harold Clause Kupers will also serve six months of home detention and pay nearly $160,000 in restitution.

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.

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley. The defense plans to call its last witness Monday.

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.

When home buyers and sellers sign a HUD-1 settlement statement at the closing of a real estate deal, they sign away their rights to the money they agree to pay in closing fees.

That was the testimony Wednesday of the first defense witness to be called in the real estate services and tax fraud case against Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

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.

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.

This story has been updated.

The outcome of the real estate services fraud case against Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley could hinge on the testimony of Jason JeRue who served as operations manager for Kelley’s former company, the Post Closing Department.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley’s trial enters its fourth week Monday. As prosecutors continue to mount their case, a behind-the-scenes fight has emerged over Kelley’s payment of taxes to the state of Washington and whether that’s relevant to this federal case.

Jurors in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley heard from Jason Jerue, a witness who is testifying under a grant of immunity from the federal government. He took the stand Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Tacoma.

The Washington Legislature has adjourned. And now the campaign season has begun. Within hours of the final gavels falling Tuesday night, fundraising pleas went out.

After weeks of gridlock, the Washington House and Senate have reached an agreement on an update to the state’s two-year budget. The deal announced late Monday ends weeks of gridlock that resulted in a 30-day special session.

A 30-day special session of the Washington Legislature is about half over. But there’s still no agreement between Senate Republicans and House Democrats on an update to the state’s two-year budget. Sharp moments of election-year partisan tensions have been on display since lawmakers convened in January.

Officer Jayme Biendl was murdered by an inmate in the chapel at the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2011. Her death spawned a major prison safety initiative in Washington.

A state performance audit released Tuesday concluded that Washington prisons are safer five years after Biendl's murder, but safety gaps still persist that put staff at risk.

A driver’s license and proof of insurance are two basics before getting behind the wheel. But Washington state auditors couldn’t find those documents for four volunteer drivers who ferried foster youth to appointments.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is on trial for pocketing real estate closing fees that prosecutors say should have been refunded to homeowners. But emails introduced into evidence Thursday call into question whether his company was the only real estate services firm that failed to issue consumer refunds during the housing bubble of the 2000s.

A former manager for Fidelity National Title escrow offices in western Washington testified Wednesday that State Auditor Troy Kelley promised to track real estate reconveyances for a $15 flat fee and refund leftover funds to customers.

A defense attorney for Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley moved for a mistrial moments after a federal prosecutor had concluded his opening statement in the money laundering and tax evasion trial against Kelley.

Opening arguments are expected Tuesday afternoon in the money laundering and tax evasion trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley. But first a jury of 12 plus two alternates must be empaneled.

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