Board dismisses ethics complaints against Pam Roach's foes

The state senator and supporters targeted a fellow Republican and a Democrat in the complaints.
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Pam Roach

The state senator and supporters targeted a fellow Republican and a Democrat in the complaints.

Four ethics complaints filed against foes of Sen. Pam Roach have been declared void by the Washington Legislative Ethics Board.

Roach and allies filed the complaints against Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, and Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw. Dahlquist is challenging Roach, R- Auburn, for her state Senate seat in November in a close, bitter race. Hurst has been helping Dahlquist. Roach vehemently dislikes Dahlquist and Hurst, and they return the hostility.

In rulings last week, the board decided against Roach and her allies on all four complaints.

Roach and her allies filed complaints that alleged the Hurst improperly attended a fundraiser in Woodinville that included liquor interests on June 11. On the same day the House Government Committee, which Hurst chairs, held a work session on liquor issues. However, the ethics board found that the House committee staff and the leaders of the fundraiser did not know about the others' efforts when they scheduled the two events in the same day. The ethics board concluded no illegal collusion occurred.

Two complaints were filed against Dahlquist and Hurst, alleging they made derogatory and inflammatory remarks about a Muslim organization that Roach had dealt with. She alleged those remarks violated state ethics laws.

A non-governmental Turkish organization — the Gulen Islamists led by a controversial Turkish imam now living in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen -— arranged what appeared to be a predominantly cultural trip to Turkey and Azerbaijan for a few hundred state legislators from all over the United States. Several Washington legislators had planned to go on that trip from May 21 to May 31, 2013.

But three factors surfaced to stop most of the Washington group from going. The first was the House and Senate's deadlocked budget talks, which sent the Legislature into two 30-day special sessions starting May 13 last year. The second was a warning from the Turkish consulate that the trip's sponsors had possible ties to radical Islamist policies. And House and Senate attorneys warned that the trip did not fit the usual criteria for a legislative trip abroad, including whether there was legislative or trade activity involved.

Roach was the only Washington legislator who went ahead with the trip. Hurst and Dahlquist criticized Roach for taking the trip, noting that the Turkish government called the Gulen Islamists radical. The ethics board ruled that Hurst and Dahlquist's criticisms of the Gulen Islamists did not fall under the state's ethics laws.

The fourth complaint claimed Hurst blackmailed a county judge candidate into dropping out of that race. In July, Roach said a potential King County judge candidate, John Torres, filed a police complaint against Hurst, alleging he made illegal threats of unveiling information about the dissolution of Torres' marriage unless he withdrew from the race. The Auburn police investigated the complaint. The police concluded no threats were made, and that Hurst was merely fulfilling an earlier request by Torres to give him a heads-up on any problems surfacing that could affect his candidacy, according to Auburn police records seen by Crosscut. Torres withdrew his candidacy on May 15, which was one week prior to his complaint with the police.

The ethics board concluded that Hurst did not do anything unethical.

Hurst made his own accusations against Roach in the summer, alleging Roach charged the state for mileage driven for campaign purposes, neglected her work as a legislator to travel and improperly conducted campaign business on a legislative cell phone that is reimbursed by the state. He also questioned the level of expenses she has claimed for reimbursement by the state for official business as a legislator. Roach then paid back some of the reimbursements she received from the state and obtained separate cell phones and post office boxes for her campaign and legislative activities.

For exclusive coverage of the state government, check out Crosscut's Under the Dome page.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at and on Twitter at @johnstang_8