Who is she?
A self-described citizen meddler, Jolene
Unsoeld led the 1972 campaign for a ballot
measure that established a Public Disclosure
Commission. The new law was a landmark
event in the push for campaign-finance
transparency and regulation of lobbyists.
Unsoeld won election to the State Legislature
in 1984 and four years later became only the
third woman ever elected to Congress from
She made enemies and allies during the
spotted owl controversy. Unsoeld insisted
that raw log exports, overcutting and
automation were the major factors in the
loss of forest jobs. She also advocated for
retraining unemployed timber workers and
incentives for new industry.
In the 1990s, Unsoeld helped ban the massive
Japanese driftnets that were endangering
U.S. salmon and steelhead runs in the North
Pacific. “The numbers were staggering,” Jolene
says. “They were stealing $21 million worth of
our salmon every year. And the international
economic implications were even more
dramatic.” Branded an “environmental
extremist,” Unsoeld never flinched.