State Sen. Pam Roach has been banned from contact with any employee of the Senate Republican caucus after Senate party leaders say she forced employees to work excessively long days and demanded they pledge their loyalty to her.
The News Tribune obtained the two-page reprimand from Senate Republican leadership through a public records request Wednesday. That came after Roach e-mailed the media, accusing other senators of plotting her demise.
In addition to the loyalty pledge, the Auburn Republican asked staff members to spend an “inordinate amount of time” with her, complained about other senators and created an “intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment,” according to the document, signed by the four members of the Senate GOP leadership.
Roach, who was traveling in Honduras, was not available for comment.
In 2003, Roach was reprimanded and asked to seek counseling after more than five years of staff complaints. During that time, staffers said she a brandished a handgun at a staffer, illegally obtained employees’ e-mails and drove some to quit. One former employee later received $2,500 from the Senate for counseling.
The new report says Roach’s behavior would likely cause more staff members to leave. It also prohibits Roach from contacting any caucus staffer.
Last week’s reprimand might not have become public were it not for the news release Roach e-mailed Monday.
“Our leadership is a disaster,” she wrote, which would “drop us even further into the abyss of becoming a meaningless entity.”
The e-mail, titled “Senate Republicans Attack Their Own,” accuses Senate Republicans of trying to oust Roach as part of a campaign to “muzzle critics.”
She went on to accuse Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, of verbally abusing members and said that he “bent and exposed his backside to a female senator while screaming at her.”
Senate Republican leaders issued their own news release Tuesday night, claiming Roach misrepresented the incident because she wanted “to distract attention from internal personnel issues for which she was disciplined.”
GOP leaders said the allegation that Hewitt “exposed his backside” was “factually deceptive and personally harmful.”
Beyond the news release, Senate Republican leaders Hewitt, Mark Schoesler, Dale Brandland and Linda Parlette have been mum, saying they won’t comment publicly on a personnel matter.
Before leaving Tuesday for Honduras, Roach told the Tri-City Herald that the incident with Hewitt occurred March 7. Roach said she flashed an obscene gesture to Hewitt during a disagreement. Hewitt, in turn, flipped up his sports coat and bent over 3 feet from her face before walking away, Roach said.
Hewitt had knee surgery this week and could not be reached for comment.
Niki Sullivan: 360-754-6093