Funding has been authorized to hire an investigator to look into rape allegations against state Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn.

The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee has approved a special budget authorization to hire an independent investigator, which Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, and Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said offered the best opportunity for a fair and non-partisan outcome.

“The Senate has grappled with an appropriate institutional response,” Nelson and Schoesler said in a statement Thursday. “The allegation pre-dates Sen. Fain’s time in the Legislature and therefore falls outside standard procedures for an allegation of this nature.”

Candace Faber, 35, of Seattle claimed Fain raped her over a decade ago before he was elected to the state Senate.

Faber, who named her alleged attacker the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says Fain raped her after she invited him to a nightclub and then walked him back to his hotel room.

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Fain said in a statement Thursday he was the first to call for an investigation and continues to "strongly deny" the accusation.

"While this episode has caused incredible stress and pain for my family, I have repeatedly sought a fair and respectful process that will allow me to clear my name and move on,” Fain said in a statement.

Faber said she hopes the investigation happens "swiftly and thoroughly."

"It has been a heart-wrenching six weeks as I have waited for one of the many people who demanded a response to demonstrate that they used the word 'investigation' in good faith and not merely as a tactic to delay action until it would no longer be meaningful," Faber said. "Throughout this excruciating period, I have been fully open and transparent with my story, responding to all questions from the public, while my rapist has hid behind the word “investigation” in silence."

The investigation comes as Fain battles to maintain his seat in the 47th District. Fain, who was up for re-election this year, led Democratic challenger Mona Das by just 90 votes Thursday morning.