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Category: Ethics

July
8th

UPDATE – Ex-Ecology worker rapped by audit for giving 85 hours of free massages to co-workers on taxpayers’ dime

The state Executive Ethics Board plans to investigate a new audit finding that a former Department of Ecology spill responder misused state resources, giving nearly 85 ½ hours of free massages to fellow workers last year while being paid by the state.

Auditors looking into a whistleblower complaint found the employee, who worked until April in Ecology’s Bellevue office, had given the massages in an agency wellness room as she worked to meet training requirements for her certificate in that field. The employee also used office computers to set up appointments and sent 406 personal messages on state email – including

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April
15th

House revises Sen. Carrell’s ethics bill, then sends it back to Senate on a 96-1 vote

Ailing Sen. Mike Carrell’s bill to give whistle blowers more protections passed in the state House on a resounding 96-1 vote Monday evening. The measure, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5577, was amended so it must go back to the Senate for concurrence.

The original bill had passed unanimously in the Senate in early March. It let whistle blowers provide information to state ethics investigators without fear of being identified publicly. It also had provisions to punish any supervisor who retaliates with at least a reprimand and potentially a 30-day suspension and civil fines

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March
26th

Questions raised about lawmakers doing ‘Columbo’-style detective work on ethics allegations

PETER FALK
Peter Falk, aka “Columbo”

Washington’s insufficient protections for ethics whistle blowers create a “chilling effect” on state employees, Executive Ethics Board director Melanie DeLeon told lawmakers today.

“If you want to file a complaint against your supervisor, you feel like you’re going to be retaliated against,” she said after talking to the House Government Operations and Elections Committee. “So they don’t. They don’t file it.”

But criticism emerged today of the fix suggested by Sen. Mike Carrell. His proposed overhaul of ethics laws passed the Senate 47-0 and escaped scrutiny from Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget office, which now says it has noticed some problems.

Among them is a provision letting elected officials keep files secret on their own personal investigations of wrongdoing. The agency said it would encourage separate investigations by politicians parallel to official probes.

A newspaper lobbyist agreed that’s not the role of elected officials. ”You’d be out there in a sort of ‘Columbo’-esque way trying to figure out what happened,” Rowland Thompson told lawmakers.

“I do have an old raincoat,” joked the committee chairman, Rep. Sam Hunt.

Carrell, a Republican senator from Lakewood, did his own sleuthing in a case that inspired the bill. Read more »

March
8th

Carrell’s bill adding protection for state-agency whistleblowers sails through Senate

The Senate voted unanimously Friday to pass a bill from Sen. Mike Carrell that lets whistle blowers provide information to state ethics investigators without fear of being identified publicly. It also has provisions to punish any supervisor who retaliates with at least a reprimand and potentially a 30-day suspension and civil fines of up to $5,000.

Carrell, a Republican senator from Lakewood, says that two whistle blowers at the Department of Corrections – whom he is not publicly identifying – suffered retaliation after bringing wrongdoing to light by a supervisor.

“One has already left the agency because of

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