Ex-legislator to repay state for travel claims

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Former Rep. Susan Fagan stepped down amidst allegations of improprieties.

Former State Rep. Susan Fagan, R-Pullman, has agreed to repay the state $5,618 as a result of her alleged cheating on 18 travel reimbursement claims.

Those allegations led to Fagan's resignation on April 30.

Fagan was accused of pressuring assistants to help her cheat on her legislative expenses reimbursement paperwork. She allegedly claimed expenses to fake legislative events, claimed more legislative expenses than she was entitled to, and sought state reimbursements for her own campaign activities.

The Washington Legislative Ethics Board decided to make her repay improper payments of $836, of which she has already paid back $650. Also, the board required Fagan to pay $4,782 in investigation costs. Since Fagan resigned, the board decided not to levy a fine against her, which could have reached a maximum of $5,000 per offense.

The board met Tuesday in a closed session, and publicly released all the paperwork on the investigation and final ruling on Thursday. The investigation paperwork provided more details about Fagan’s activities than the board had detailed in late April, but contained no major new revelations. Fagan, 67, signed an agreement to make the repayments on June 9, and board chairwoman Kristine Hoover signed the same agreement Tuesday.

In Fagan’s June 9 stipulation, she denied she was untruthful, and said she had no intent to violate the state ethics act. But she accepted responsibility for the improper reimbursements. And she acknowledged “that sufficient evidence exists for the alleged offenses to be prosecuted and that a tribunal could be convinced that the Ethics Act was violated."

House Chief Clerk Barbara Baker filed a complaint to the ethics board against Fagan on Jan. 6, claiming that Fagan made up many events or meetings in order to be reimbursed for the cost of driving to them. She was also accused of improperly gaming the mileage reimbursement system so that an unlimited House mileage account would be charged rather than her own office’s annual account of $6,500. She was said to have inflated mileage claims in some cases. One legislative assistant left her job in part because she was uncomfortable with the situation, according to the complaint.

Fagan, who served on the House appropriations and education committees, is a former public affairs official who worked for private and government employers. She was first elected to her post in late 2009 in a special election following the death of Rep. Steven Hailey. She ran unopposed in 2014. Her southeastern Washington district covered Adams, Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties and parts of Franklin and Spokane counties. The county commissioners from those six counties recently picked Republican Mary Dye of Garfield County to complete Fagan’s current term.


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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 johnstang_8@hotmail.com and on Twitter at @johnstang_8