JAMES “JIMI” O’HAGAN
Republican James “Jimi” O’Hagan, 62, has worked in farming, construction, commercial fishing and forestry. He attended a trade program at Grays Harbor College. He has been growing cranberries in Grayland since his late teens. In 1994, O’Hagan sued neighboring farmer Kenyon Kelly over a water-rights dispute. He won a judgment of more than $200,000 in 2000. However, Kelly, who died in 2011, unsuccessfully filed for bankruptcy numerous times. His estate is still tied up in bankruptcy proceedings, and O’Hagan has never received payment. Acting as his own attorney, O’Hagan has since been involved in numerous related proceedings in local, state and federal courts. His experiences led him to believe that corruption is widespread in the legal system, and galvanized him to run for office in 2014 and 2016. If elected, O’Hagan said he would focus on trying to evict attorneys from the legislature.
Why do you want to run for office?
I’m running for office to address the violation of separation of powers. I’m trying to move the members of the judiciary out of legislative and executive branches, and restore domestic tranquility.
What do you mean by “domestic tranquility”?
There’s too many laws. I think there’s too many attorneys that are holding office, and they’re creating laws to benefit attorneys. We need to take a real close look at that. That’s a predatory-type activity. I think it jeopardizes, or puts a lot of pressure on the producers of our gross national product.
What do you feel your strengths would be as a representative?
I think I have the ability to convince the non-judicial members of the legislature to look at what’s being done there, and really scrutinize the laws that have been made, and who they’re really benefiting.
What issues would be a high priority for you, if elected?
Addressing the violation of the separation of powers will solve a lot of our problems. I think that’s what I have to prioritize, because a lot of other problems that we’re having in society fall down from that.
We have this enormous amount of laws, truly. It’s almost impossible for any average person to follow them all.
What are the 19th LD’s greatest needs?
The economically vulnerable are at risk. I think special interests of large corporations — chemical corporations, timber corporations and super-corporations are catering to the politicians and the special-interests. I’m afraid for that — for the small family farmers, and small family contract loggers and fishermen.
What do you think LD19 legislators could be doing better?
Obviously, that’s why I am running. I think that Brian [Blake] needs to make more decisions based on his own feelings, instead of worrying about the other special interest groups in the legislature.
Are you alleging that your opponent is under the influence of special interests?
I think he’s under it. I have no desire to solicit funds from special interest groups. I’ve been bombarded by emails from them.
Some women’s advocacy groups say our state reps have done only a mediocre job of advocating for women, in terms of things like equal pay, family leave, domestic violence policy and access to healthcare. Do you think you could do better?
I think I would stand up very hard for equal opportunities, and equal protection of the laws. Those topics that you talked about, with the women’s suffrage there, kind of — it’s an economic deal. That’s who I want to stand up for; people who don’t have the power to have the special interests’ voice.
Why should voters who are on the fence consider voting for a Republican candidate?
I think it’s time that we had a Republican elected in the office that was more concerned about private sector and small family businesses.
How have you been getting to know people in this part of the district?
I’ve been to the fair, I’ve been to a lot of the other counties in the 19th, attending regular meetings with the Republican parties in Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties. I have done a lot of doorbelling. I talked to a couple of fishermen that I know, and a couple of the shellfishermen in the area.
But you haven’t formally met with fisheries or other industry groups here?
Not specifically. I attended a couple of meet-and-greets in Ilwaco, and [a forum] at the Elk’s club.
What issues do you see as being important to Pacific County residents?
The amount of regulations. Do we want to go back towards our constitutional form of government, or do we want to continue going towards a monarchy or oligarchy, where we have a ruling class, and servants of the ruling class, and slaves?
Do you think those issues are specifically important to people here?
We need to have more jobs. It seems like there’s less opportunities for producers of our gross national product, and more opportunities for public employees, public sector workers, and welfare recipients. I’m worried about that. We can’t continue relying on national debt.
More opportunities for public employees and welfare recipients — are those Pacific County issues?
I think we need to have more jobs so that we have less pessimism and depression. It’s very important that we create private sector jobs, producer jobs.
How can we bring more sustainable, family-wage jobs to the area?
I think there’s a lot of opportunity in tourism. I think there’s a lot of opportunity in timber jobs. We need to bring some of those manufacturing jobs for timber products back into the area.
Do you think the potential economic benefits of bringing coal and oil through the region by river and by rail outweigh the health, safety and environmental risks?
If we have a system in place where huge amounts of profits are made from those ecological and economic disasters, I think they will continue to occur. We have to take a strong, strong position on that. We need to hold decision-makers accountable.
So, you don’t believe that the benefits outweigh the risks?
No, no. I didn’t say that. It’s absolutely necessary. I think we have to have those kinds of energy industries, but boy, we need to do a better job of protecting the environment. We need to require those super-corporations to put more money into the transportation and railroads so that they can share the load of fixing the infrastructure. We need to do it in a manner where it doesn’t force those corporations out of the area.
Do you think the marijuana industry has been good for the district?
It’s a social experiment, and I think we have to wait and see. There is economic benefits to it, but there’s also a downside. It’s too early for me to predict.
The infamous McCleary decision said legislators need to figure out how to fully fund education. In your view, what’s the best way to do that?
I think it’s a violation of the separation of powers, where the judiciary is trying to tell the legislature what to do.
If there’s lands that are held in federal ownership that could be benefiting schools, and they’re not, then what’s the holdup? Why don’t we do that? There’s a lot of controversy about how the Puget Sound area has more than enough funding for their schools, and the rural areas are struggling. I think there might be some opportunities in balancing out that school funding.
When do you think it is appropriate to raise taxes?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to raise taxes. We can’t continually put pressure on producers in our society to carry the burden. I think it stifles business and growth.
I’m all for smaller government and less taxes. I think government has become this overwhelming monster — it’s to the point where it’s almost unsustainable. I’m very afraid that the only way we’re going to get out of it is if we come to some kind of world conflict situation.
You advocate for “smaller government and less taxes,” but you have accepted thousands of dollars of federal farm subsidies. Do you see a conflict of interest there?
In the Grayland cranberry industry, we got submitted to more regulations than any other growing area in the world. Part of those regulations came from cribbing and covering our ditches. In order to keep from making the cranberry industry completely obsolete, they provided a subsidy. It took away from all the work I could have done working on the farm, and forced me to do that work — basically a slave-labor deal. I’m frustrated with that entire thing — the way that I was forced into doing it. The only other opportunity was to give up farming. The farm subsidies that I have used were not by my choice — they were almost forced on me.
You went to Harney County, Ore. to support the Bundys and their allies during the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. What led you to get involved in that?
I did not know the Bundys, Hammonds or any of those guys. When I saw it on the news, I was offended by it. I know how bad our judges are and how bad our prosecutors are, and I’m appalled that we’re putting ranchers in jail for being ranchers, farmers in jail for being farmers, and fishermen in jail for being fishermen. I went down there to see if I can help them.
What did you do while you were there?
I met with the Bundys, and I learned that Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox are some of the most God-fearing people I have met in my life. They are the most caring people. I was amazed. I wound up staying out there and getting to know the whole argument. I tried to come to a peaceful resolution where nobody would get hurt. I met with the sheriff. You cannot believe how deeply saddened I am about what happened to them. I know firsthand.
Have you met with local tribal leaders as part of your campaign?
I’ve talked to some of the Shoalwater people down there at the meetings and stuff, but no, I have not approached them, per se, as part of the campaign.
Are you aware of the Chinook Nation’s struggle to become recognized as a tribe?
The Chinook Nation? No, I’m not really familiar with that. Sorry.
Chinook leaders say they need support from other local leaders in their fight for federal status. Would you advocate for them?
There’s tremendous amount of history in the area here with that. That surprises me that they don’t have that recognition. I mean it’s well-documented, their existence here.
You’ve filed hundreds of pages of court documents related to your long-ago water-rights lawsuit. Can you please describe how that has affected you personally?
It opened my eyes about how much corruption, deceit, deception and fraud is involved in the judiciary. It changed my political outlook. Financially, it altered the course of my life. It is the thing that brought me here before you today, no doubt.
Do you think your platform addresses the issues that are important to LD19 residents?
If we stop the violation of separation of powers, send members of the judiciary back to the judiciary, stop making laws that benefit attorneys, then I think we will restore domestic tranquility, and huge amounts of opportunities will open up for us in the 19th. I don’t think people understand that. They haven’t studied that problem a much as I have.
How would you accomplish that?
I would use the WA state constitution. When there’s a state representative in the house that has a special interest, they’re not allowed to be involved in the discussion or the passing of the bill. I would bring a bill in there to make it a felony to violate the separation of powers.
How do you plan to win support from other members of the legislature to go after other members of the legislature?
If I kick the attorneys out, and I’m left to the non-attorneys, then I only have to convince about one-third of the representatives that this is a needful thing we need to do. If I win two-thirds of the vote of the non attorneys, then we bring that into effect.
I would like to see the commission on judicial conduct abolished. It’s a basically a big high-dollar commission of judges we don’t need to pay for. The state representatives are supposed to do that.
You have accused dozens of local, state and federal officials of corruption. The most recent independent investigation found no grounds for your allegations. Do you think you’re going to be able to work effectively with those people if you’re elected?
There’s no doubt that if I get elected, there will be less corruption in Washington state. If we have to get new prosecutors and new judges, then so be it.
You also have accused the Department of Ecology of burning down their own facility as part of a cover-up. Are you willing to work with officials from an agency that you believe to be seriously corrupt?
There’s no doubt that the criminal activity that led to the May 23, 1999, arson fires at Department of Ecology led to the restrictions of the cranberry industry, affected the water rights argument that I was involved in, and it led to over a million dollars’ worth of fire damage. It was corruption to the tee.
I need you to talk about you — do you think that you can work effectively and civilly with people that you believe to be corrupt?
To tell you the truth, I probably think there’s been a changing of the guard, and the same people that were at DOE might not be there. They may have different people. Do I hold a personal grudge against somebody that wasn’t involved in it? Why would I? Do you understand that?
You have also campaigned to get every attorney in the state disbarred. If you have so little confidence in the legal system, why do you want to be a lawmaker?
Oh, I think the most important part of being a lawmaker is not only passing new laws, but scrutinizing the laws that are there in the first place.