Melissa Santos

Political reporter, Crosscut

Seattle, Washington

Melissa Santos

While writing for two of the Northwest’s largest daily newspapers, I exposed politicians violating open meetings laws, misspending public funds and saying things that simply aren’t true. Now, working for an online nonprofit news organization , I dig into angles of stories that aren't being covered elsewhere, doing in-depth reporting on Washington politics and the state Capitol.



Jay Inslee's about-face on Boeing's big tax break

Six years later, the Democratic governor is running for president of the United States, and painting a very different picture of how the $8.7-billion Boeing deal went down. During an interview this week, Inslee told The Daily Show host Trevor Noah that he “was not happy with the Boeing situation,” and compared it to being robbed at gunpoint.

How a WA lawmaker used a fake kidnapping to sway a vote

“With that Hispanic surname and the public disclosure information that was obtained, an incarcerated individual not in this state passed on that information to some individuals in Mexico,” said Sheldon, who caucuses with Republicans. “And when she was on a visit to her family down there, she was actually kidnapped.

A WA lawmaker quit to lobby for Amazon. Most states ban that.

Palumbo, who was elected in 2016, started Tuesday as Amazon’s statewide director of public policy. In most states, having a so-called “cooling off” period between legislating and lobbying is viewed as a way to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest. At least 25 states ban lawmakers from sliding into lobbyist jobs for one year after they leave state service; at least nine states make the prohibition last two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Olympia’s culture of secrecy reveals itself — again

On Thursday afternoon, leaders announced they had reached a budget deal. But they told reporters they wouldn’t discuss details of the spending plan — or the tax measures that would pay for it — until Friday or Saturday. Then, late Thursday evening, the state Senate went ahead and voted on hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases that would help pay for the yet-to-be unveiled budget.

Progressive or fauxgressive? A look at WA Dems' tax plans

To help generate more money for schools, House Democrats want to raise the current limits on how much school districts can collect in local property taxes. By lifting those levy caps, the House’s plan could cause property owners across the state to pay as much as $1 billion more in taxes per year.

Lawmakers are still lying about their bill to hide public records

Don't fooled by lawmakers' distortions about their attempt to evade the state's Public Records Act.
The Seattle Times Link to Story

Opinion: Gov. Inslee must veto legislative-secrecy bill

This editorial was the first to appear on A1 of The Seattle Times in at least three decades.
The Seattle Times Link to Story

Here's what actually happened to crime after WA legalized pot

DOJ attempts to link pot use to violent crime don't reflect what's happened in Washington state.
The News Tribune Link to Story

Babies behind bars: How some inmates raise their infants in prison

Aceyn and Ezra will soon turn 1 year old inside the women's prison, where they’ve lived since birth. They're part of a program that lets pregnant mothers keep their babies.
The News Tribune Link to Story

Washington No.1 for jailing noncriminal kids, due to 1995 law

More than two decades after the beaten body of a Tacoma runaway was found along the Spokane River, a photo of her hangs prominently on the wall in a King County juvenile courtroom. It’s the same photo Rebecca Hedman’s parents took to Olympia 20 years ago to push lawmakers to pass the Becca Bill, which gave parents more authority to seek help for their runaway children.
The News Tribune Link to Story

State bills people who start wildfires, but rarely gets paid

Andy Knutson didn’t see the red-hot piece of metal fly away from him that day. Knutson, a teacher who lives in Okanogan County, said he frantically tried to put out the fire, which started about 15 feet from where he was working on a summer remodeling project. He succeeded at singeing the hair on his arms and melting his shoes, but couldn’t put out the blaze, which went on to scorch nearly 2,000 acres over three days.
The News Tribune Link to Story

Fake Founding Fathers quotes make their way into gun-rights bill

A gun-rights bill introduced at the Capitol on Friday includes six quotes from America’s Founding Fathers about the importance of guns to democracy. The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, would create penalties for public officials who block people from owning or buying guns.
The News Tribune Link to Story


Melissa Santos

I am a hard-nosed accountability journalist who asks tough questions of government officials and keeps digging for answers when they don't come easy.

As part of my job, I expose untruths in campaign ads, reveal how government agencies spend taxpayer money and explore ways state agencies can do their jobs better.

I also engage regularly with readers on social media and am proficient at shooting video. Once I started a video series where I met politicians at bars to talk policy over tater tots.

Previously, I managed a mobile politics app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. I also covered several city governments, uncovering questionable police practices, politicians disregarding public meetings laws and the drunken driving arrest of a statewide elected official.



  • Data analysis
  • Accountability reporting
  • Covering political campaigns
  • Writing for the web
  • Social media
  • narrative writing
  • Storytelling