Melissa Santos

Columnist, The Seattle Times

Seattle, Washington

Melissa Santos

While writing for two of the Northwest’s largest daily newspapers, I’ve exposed politicians violating open meetings laws, misspending public funds and saying things that simply aren’t true. Editing a weekly newspaper and a mobile app has taught me to write cleanly, quickly and for all platforms.



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.
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Just how big is WA's blue wave? Perhaps biggest in decades

In Washington state, Republicans have a lot of ground to make up if they are to avoid a bloodbath in November.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Election analysis: West Coast not quite part of Trump train

As Republican real estate mogul Donald Trump stunned the world by laying claim to the White House on Tuesday night, the political landscape in left-leaning Washington looked like more of the same — and perhaps even a shade bluer than before. In the Evergreen State, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was winning 56 percent of the vote to Trump’s 38 percent, a margin higher than President Barack Obama had over Mitt Romney when Obama won the state in 2012.
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Could Jeff Sessions shut down WA's legal weed industry?

As Washington lawmakers quibble over the best way to spend money generated by the state’s legal marijuana business, some of them worry the debate could become irrelevant under President Donald Trump’s pick to become the next U.S. attorney general. “Trump’s AG may make this a moot point,” said state House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, regarding discussions of how Washington should spend its weed money.
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Where does the state's legal weed money go?

Washington expects to rake in about $730 million from sales of legalized marijuana over the next two years. While that may seem like a large sum, it amounts to just a small piece of the $41.3 billion in total revenues that are expected to bankroll the state’s general fund over the same period. What’s more, without a change in law, only some of the state’s marijuana money is available for lawmakers to spend however they want, limiting its utility in dealing with budget challenges such as the state Supreme Court order to fix the way the state pays for schools.
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Capitol Happy Hour: Watch them all here

Politics is sometimes at its best when discussed at a bar, instead of in a Capitol hearing room. That’s the concept behind our regular video series, Capitol Happy Hour, where I meet with Washington state politicians and talk to them at bars over tater tots. In this episode, Washington's Secretary of State, Kim Wyman, gets emotional talking about how she dealt with her cancer diagnosis earlier this year.
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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