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Tag: Belinda Stewart


UPDATED: Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner cancels nonprofit agreements, keeps official fined over ethics

Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner says he has reprimanded an official who was fined for an ethics violation, but won’t fire her as requested by a state lawmaker.

Warner wrote to Sen. Mike Carrell this week telling him about his decision, a month after the Executive Ethics Board handed down its $13,400 fine on Belinda Stewart.

Stewart has appealed the fine, the ethics board said today.

“What I told the senator is I certainly share his expectations in having the highest standards of ethics and accountability for state employees,” Warner told me, outlining steps he’s taken to address ethics and Stewart’s

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Read the ethics board’s order fining Corrections official Belinda Stewart

Here’s my story today on the $17,000 fine, which Belinda Stewart says is unfair and one of her pursuers, Sen. Mike Carrell, says is too lenient. Read more »


DOC salaries don’t violate rules

The salaries of the Department of Corrections employees who worked for Belinda Stewart were in line with required salary ranges, according to data provided today by the governor’s budget office.

State Sen. Mike Carrell had said they were above the ranges. His online posting led to an ethics complaint dismissed today.

The reason for the discrepancy:  The official salary document Carrell cited in his newsletter didn’t reflect a 3 percent pay cut that state employees took this year, while the official salary range on the Department of Personnel website did reflect the cut.

According to the budget office’s data,

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New Secretary Bernie Warner reshuffles leadership of Corrections Department

Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner has reorganized the top jobs in his agency, and promoted Dan Pacholke to prisons director.

Warner briefly served as prisons director before Gov. Chris Gregoire tapped him this summer to replace Eldon Vail, who had been forced out by an interoffice affair.

Vail isn’t the only recent departure. He was followed out the door by two assistant secretaries, Scott Blonien and Cheryl Strange.

In a Thursday letter to staff, Warner said he had promoted Pacholke, the deputy director of prisons, to the top job. He previously led Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen and Cedar Creek in Thurston County. Warner said:

Dan has shown great leadership in his work to implement safety initiatives in prisons through changes in policy, practice, technology, and training. He is a veteran of the Washington State correctional system, having worked in five prisons throughout the state. I am glad to have Dan in this leadership role.

Warner announced several interim appointments, including Susan Lucas to replace Strange as assistant secretary of health services;  Sandy Mullins to take over Blonien’s role in charge of policy support; Alan Haskins as budget director, Steve Sinclair to share the deputy prisons director duties with Earl Wright, and Don Holbrook as superintendent of the Washington State Penintentiary in Walla Walla.

And he gave a bit more information about the reassignment of Belinda Stewart, which he announced Sept. 9 without giving details. Stewart was transferred from her job as communications director pending the results of an investigation into her management of nonprofit groups on state time. He wrote Thursday:

Belinda Stewart, with many years of experience in Prisons, will be assigned to special initiatives as designated by the Prisons Director.

Olympian reporter Brad Shannon asked him for more details last week but Warner wouldn’t say what rank Stewart would have or where she would work. Warner said she would be in the prisons division (although his organizational chart places the “special initiatives” job in the policy support area under Mullins.)

Warner named Chad Lewis to take over as communications director for Stewart.

Here’s the org chart: Read more »


Corrections secretary says he will ‘reassign’ Stewart after ethics report

Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner said today he would “reassign” Communications Director Belinda Stewart as an investigation proceeds into her work for nonprofit groups on state’s dime.

Warner said he would also rewrite agency policies, beef up ethics training and suspend all use of state resources on three nonprofits that have special dispensation under DOC rules.

The Executive Ethics Board today found cause to believe Stewart committed violations of state ethics laws. The board’s report is above. Key findings:

  • Stewart “may have violated ethics laws when she used state resources including her time, her staff’s time, state computers, state vehicles and the state electronic mail system far in excess of the de minimis (negligible) use rule to further the agenda of” three nonprofits.
  • Stewart drove state vehicles to prisons in Belfair and to Eastern Washington to teach classes for DOC employees on behalf of her nonprofit, the National Association of Women in Criminal Justice. She also drove state cars to Seattle or Tacoma at least four times for meetings of another group, the Faith Based Re-Entry Coalition.  Read more »


Ethics board finds violations likely in case of Department of Corrections’ Belinda Stewart

Belinda Stewart

Meeting behind closed doors today, the state Executive Ethics Board talked about allegations against a Department of Corrections administrator who worked on behalf of nonprofit groups on state time.

When the board emerged, it voted 3-0 to declare there is “reasonable cause” to believe ethics laws were violated in the case.

A more than 20-page report explains the findings and the board expects to release it this afternoon. The board will ask for a response from the target of the investigation, DOC Communications Director Belinda Stewart.

State Sen. Mike Carrell, who filed one of the complaints against Stewart, sent a letter today to new Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner asking him to fire Stewart.

The ethics board has the authority to fine Stewart but not to dismiss her.

The department said it would make a statement after reviewing the report.

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