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By Roger Harnack
Franklin Connection 

Forbidden Fruit

Gov. Inslee illegally transported maggot larvae-infested apples to Eastern Washington


Last updated 9/18/2020 at 8:06am

Roger Harnack | Free Press Publishing

Gov. Jay Inslee, right, personally carries a bin of Honeycrisp apples he said he and First Lady Trudi Inslee picked from the Governor's Tree into Malden on Thursday, Sept. 10. Other apples from the same crop have tested positive for maggot larvae.

MALDEN – While the Honeycrisp apples Gov. Jay Inslee brought here last Thursday continue to sit in the bin he presented the mayor with, others he delivered to Bridgeport and Omak contain maggot larvae.

Those apples were dispersed and Douglas County officials are now trying to locate them.

This morning, Wednesday, Sept. 16, Chelan-Douglas Horticulture Pest and Disease Board Director Will Carpenter called on anyone with information about the contaminated apples to call or email him details on their whereabouts.

"We are desperately seeking the help of all Bridgeport and Douglas County residents or anyone who may have any information to help us locate the apples," Carpenter wrote in a press release issued this morning. "It is of the utmost importance these apples are safely disposed of immediately."

The governor brought the apples to Malden on Thursday, Sept. 10, as a gift to residents who suffered losses in the Babb Fire.

After first asking that all media be removed, he personally carried the bin of apples from his black SUV into a public meeting with residents and Mayor Chris Ferrell.

During a speech, he presented the bin to the mayor, saying he and First Lady Trudi Inslee personally picked them from the Governor's Tree, on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion in Olympia.

Non-local TV crews and non-local print journalists were more than a block away when he made the presentation.

Two days later, on Saturday, Sept. 12, Gov. Inslee took more of the same Honeycrisp apples to Bridgeport and Omak, for victims of the Pearl Hill Fire.

Testing on the apples conducted earlier this week showed them to be infested with apple maggot larvae, Douglas County officials said.

The transportation of apples from an apple maggot quarantine area into non-quarantine areas of Eastern Washington is illegal under state law.

Illegally transporting apples from a maggot quarantine zone into a non-quarantine zone is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a gross misdemeanor for each subsequent offense, under Revised Code of Washington 17.24.101.

If found guilty of a misdemeanor for transporting the apples to Malden, the governor could face a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to RCW 9A.20.021. The penalty, if found guilty, for each of the subsequent gross misdemeanors is up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $5,000.

The Governor's Mansion is in Thurston County, which is a quarantined county. Douglas and Whitman counties are not, and neither is most of Okanogan County, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

Roger Harnack | Franklin Connection

Gov. Jay Inslee, right, presents Malden Mayor Chris Ferrell with a bin of Honeycrisp apples he said he and First Lady Trudi Inslee personally picked from the Governor's Tree at the Governor's Mansion in Thurston County, an apple maggot quarantine area.

While the governor told Malden residents the apples were picked at the Governor's Mansion, a Twitter post shows that Gov. Inslee has also donated apples elsewhere over the last week that he said were picked at his home on Bainbridge Island in Kitsap County, which is also under an apple maggot quarantine.

It's also cause for concern as the maggots can destroy apple crops; the Brewster-Bridgeport area is renowned for its apples, which are sold oversees for several dollars per apple.

Carpenter said Eastern Washington agriculture officials are worried that the apple maggots could spread to area crops and have "serious implications for the region."

As of this morning, Wednesday, Sept. 16, the apples brought to Malden remained in the bin at the location he presented them to Mayor Ferrell.

A call to the Whitman County WSU Extension Office requesting information on the governor-apple maggot issue were directed to Stephen Van Vleet, whose staff said he was out of the office until Thursday.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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