Senate emails show Sen. Pam Roach returns about $5,000 in expense payments

According to emails received by The Courier-Herald through a public records request concerning Sen. Pam Roach's questionable expense reports, the senator has paid back about $5,000.

According to emails received by The Courier-Herald through a public records request concerning Republican Sen. Pam Roach’s questionable expense reports, the senator has paid back about $5,000.

Roach delivered four blank checks to the Senate administration July 22 following stories published in The Courier-Herald and by News Tribune reporter Jordan Schrader concerning payments to her for expenses. An email from the Senate administration outlining the money she owed the state.

Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw is challenging Roach for the Senate. The Dahlquist campaign first raised the issue of Roach’s expense reports payments alleging the Senator was violating state law by mixing campaign and legislative functions with her post office box and cell phone.

The Dahlquist campaign also questioned Roach’s mileage reimbursements alleging some reflected the merging of legislative and campaign functions and some entries were inflated.

The emails show Hunter Goodman, secretary of the Senate and Keith Buchholz, Senate attorney, reviewed her expense records and found a total of $612.29 was owed for incorrect mileage to a Feb. 26 Sportsman’s Club event in Oregon, the purchase of two cell phones and rent on her post office box.

The administration also calculated Roach owed $4515.91 for mileage she was paid to pick up her mail at the post office box.

The calculations and money owed by Roach appear to date back to 2009

Roach said during a July 18 interview with The Courier-Herald,  P.O. Box 682 was used for her personal, legislature and campaign mail.

She also said if there was a problem with her expense reports it was not her responsibility but was the Senate administration’s  responsibility.

“The responsibility for this goes to the person writing the check,” Roach said.

In an email from Goodman to Roach dated July 23 he wrote:

“I understand that you have used the post office box for years. It is only after the Senate changed to a reimbursement system in 2009 that we have any records regarding any specific use of state funds. Here, our records show that you used state funds to pay the rental fee for the post office box on November 4, 2009. Because of the “zero tolerance” policy, you were then unable to use that same box for campaign purposes. (You could rent a different box in the same facility, or rent a box somewhere else, for campaign issues. However, you used the same box that the state paid for.)

“These three points all combine in this instance:

1. Members are prohibited from using the same address for legislative and campaign activity. This is a long standing ethics rule, regardless of whether the address is in Olympia or in district. A brief review of your reports with the Public

Disclosure Commission shows that the same box was and is used in your

campaigns.

2. State law prohibits the use of state resources to support campaigns. Here, by

having the Senate pay the fee for your post office box, your campaigns were able to save a few dollars. That constitutes support of your campaigns, and,

once more, because of the zero tolerance approach, we must take the exact steps we are taking to resolve the issue.

3. Senate policy implements this prohibition by requiring that improper payments made to a member be re-paid by that member.

“I can certainly appreciate your frustration. However, once you used your office funds to pay for the post office box, that box became entirely off limits for campaign use. And because we do not monitor campaigns, the Senate was unaware of that fact that you used its post office box for your campaigns. A more capable opponent in 2010 might have brought this to our attention then, but that did not happen.

“I also want to add that I greatly appreciate your efforts to confront these issues and resolve them. But my hands are tied due to the laws and rules the legislature and Senate have adopted. Had we been aware of the campaign use of your post office box, we would have instructed our staff in accounting to cease all reimbursement for the rental and the mileage, until such time as the legislative and campaign.”

In an email from Roach sent Saturday to Buchholz, shortly after the release of the Goodman-Buchholz emails,  she wrote:

“Please have Marne fill in the blank check that is remaining to reflect the amount due. I transferred money to my account on Thursday waiting to see what the final amount would be.”

Roach requested the Senate now send her mail to her home address on Green Valley Road.

This story will be updated tomorrow.

 

RCW 42.17A.550: Use of public funds for political purposes.

Public funds, whether derived through taxes, fees, penalties, or any other sources, shall not be used to finance political campaigns for state or school district office. A county, city, town, or district that establishes a program to publicly finance local political campaigns may only use funds derived from local sources to fund the program. A local government must submit any proposal for public financing of local political campaigns to voters for their adoption and approval or rejection.

 

More in News

Citizen group urges council to start pool planning

With the Sumner High School pool closing at the end of the 2018-2019 swim season, residents are asking the City of Bonney Lake to build a city pool to house the Panther and Spartan swim teams. A presentation on why the council should start planning a pool as quickly as possible is being held Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Teacher, student reconnect at living center after 66 years

A person can change in 66 years. At the very least, they’re going to look pretty different. So when Robert Terrell, 96, and Margaret (Peggy) Burley, 75, ran into each other at Bonney Lake’s Cedar Ridge assisted living facility last August, neither of them realized they had met before — at an elementary school, where he was a fourth-grade teacher, and she was a part of his first ever class.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

Sumner School District seeks name ideas for new elementary school

Want to name your new local school? Just fill out a short form by Jan. 26

Black Diamond hits the reset button

The new Black Diamond City Council wasted no time on settling in and testing the political waters. On their first meeting of the year, new Councilwomen Melissa Oglesbee and Erin Stout and returning Councilwomen Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman marched through a long list of agenda items, many of which reversed council policies and goals set over the last two years.

Judge reproaches Black Diamond mayor, former city council majority

In a summary judgement hearing, King County Superior Court Judge Janet Helson said she was troubled by both the actions of Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson and former City Council majority Pat Pepper, Brian Weber, and Erika Morgan over the last two years concerning potential Open Public Meetings Act violations.

Man shot in Burnett; suspect turns himself in

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the victim was driven to the Burnett Store in order to report he was shot by his brother. The suspect turned himself in approximately three hours later.

Garbage, water, sewer rates increase in Enumclaw

Having made the leap into a new year, Enumclaw property owners are now seeing increases to nearly all their utility rates. Here’s a look at the 2018 increases for city services, along with the financial impact on customers.

WA infant mortality rate below U.S. rate, disparities still remain | Department of Health

Washington ranks eighth in the nation for the lowest infant deaths, yet African-American and American Indian families still experience disproportionate rates of infant mortality.

Most Read