A long-standing argument between 31st District Sen. Pam Roach (R) and the Washington State House Senate was decided this week, after an agreement was filed that declares the Senate’s stance on commitment to a respectful workplace and reaffirming sanctions that keep Roach from interacting with staff and participating in caucus meetings.
Senior Republican Senate attorney Mike Hoover filed a $1.75 million lawsuit against the Senate, claiming a hostile work environment due to Roach back in 2010. He also argued that sanctions that took her out of the caucus room were breached when she was allowed to sit in on caucus meetings regarding key budget issue in the Legislature this year.
Hoover’s lawsuit did not earn him a financial settlement; however, the Senate reaffirmed its sanctions against Sen. Roach that forbid her from caucus meetings and staff interactions. It also stated that the Senate will review its policy on addressing problems in the workplace.
The settlement was reached while Roach is overseas on humanitarian missions in Romania and Zambia. While she wasn’t in Olympia to comment publicly on the settlement, she sent the following letter to media outlets today:
I am sorry the Senate decided to release this statement in my absence. I am currently on humanitarian missions in both Romania and Zambia and the Senate knows this. In Romania, I played an instrumental role in a health care mission. In Zambia, I am representing several national legislative organizations, the National Foundation of Women Legislators, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and a non profit with which I work.
The Senate has enormous resources with which to defend itself. Those assets have allowed them to call the bluff and send away a plaintiff who never did have a case. By law and tradition I have been unable to comment on the treatment that I have received by a few Senate leaders in my own party. I have never been afforded counsel or been interviewed by the Senate Committee on Facilities and Operations during false accusations against me in the past. They only want fairness when it involves the entire Senate. Justice is sought for individual members on a political basis.
I believe the Senate process for such outrageous accusations and lies about me by Mr. Hoover, should be reviewed. No member of the legislature, when personally defamed should have to go it alone. I have always refused to sacrifice my family resources, potentially tens of thousands of dollars, just to defend against charges that anyone can make at any time.
While I am not at liberty to comment directly on the specifics, I am happy that this matter is over and am totally vindicated in this matter aimed solely at defaming my good character. (When I return I will seek advice on what I can say.)
Beyond this, I am calling for open actions by the Legislature in such matters. I personally know of employees who have been paid off to leave in order to protect members who actually did have employees with a cause of action. Yet, the usual star chamber method employed against some selected members, only for political purposes, continues.
Again, while I am satisfied with this arrangement, I am not satisfied with the powers some members can wield over others. Political hate aimed at hurting me is wrong and needs to be addressed. I know that having an open process is the only way to prevent powerful people from misusing their power.
I will return from my successful missions Tuesday evening and available for interviews about my experiences at that time.
www.Pamroachreport.blogspot.com which mentions some of my activities. I did a radio show for an hour this morning in Livingston, Zambia. Then I was received by the mayor and the local TV station. This afternoon I toured Victoria Falls with members of the Economic Resource Group in Zambia which is hosting me. I will have dinner with national officials in a few minutes. all costs are being born by me and my husband, Jim.
What do you think of the Senate's decision to keep Sen. Roach out of key meetings, and how did her response resonate with you? Tell us in the comments.