WSDOT Economist: State Retaliated After Refusal to Lie About Gas Prices
According to multiple sources, including KING-5 TV in Seattle, a former WA state economist for the Department of Transportation has filed a lawsuit over his dismissal.
Economist claims WSDOT forced him out for refusing to 'lie'
Scott Smith, from Tumwater, has worked for the WSDOT as an economist, who was a transportation planner. He was, according to KING-5, " the primary WSDOT employee tasked with forecasting fuel consumption, pricing and revenues from gas taxes and fees."
Smith had worked as a public sector economist for 35 years but now says he was forced out and his career ruined for what he says was his refusal to lie about how the state's new cap-and-trade carbon credit auction program would raise gas prices between $.45 to $.50 cents per gallon.
The pressure to change his findings or lie about the data became so great he felt he had no choice but to resign. Multiple state officials, including Governor Jay Inslee, said the increase at the pump for consumers would only be a "few" pennies, or negligible. According to KING-5TV:
"On Ecology’s website, the agency featured a prediction that the Climate Commitment Act’s impact would be “very modest” and that Ecology had “evaluated prices under a range of potential market strategies.” That web page has since been removed.
“That (analysis) flies in the face of reality,” Smith said. “It’s really sixth grade math.”
Smith told KING-5 he was "horrified," this was the first time in his career he'd been told to "jimmy" numbers. He documented multiple emails and memos from WSDOT officials telling him not to share his data, to redact it, and not mention it in emails in case someone made a public records request.
When confronted about the lawsuit filed by Smith, Inslee spokesman Mike Faulk told KING 5 they should not be reporting on the story, because it was based on claims that have not yet been investigated.
Smith's lawsuit is against WSDOT, the Office of Financial Management, and the Office of the Governor.
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