Politics & Government

4 ethics complaints dismissed in Roach-Dahlquist race, but plenty remain

Allegations of impropriety continue to fly in a right-leaning legislative district that straddles the Pierce and King county line. But as far as formal complaints go, there are now fewer to worry about.

The state's Legislative Ethics Board has dismissed four complaints against the duo of lawmakers who are fighting to defeat state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.

In documents released last week, the board said it doesn’t have jurisdiction over two of the ethics complaints filed against state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, and state Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw. The two lawmakers are working together to elect Dahlquist to the state Senate.

The board also dismissed another two complaints against Hurst, saying it found no reasonable cause to determine Hurst violated legislative ethics rules.

Still, six complaints remain unresolved in the race between Roach and Dahlquist. Three complaints accuse Dahlquist of campaign finance violations, while Roach is the subject of an ethics complaint and two complaints about how she’s reported campaign money.

Dahlquist is looking to unseat Roach from the Senate position she has held for more than 20 years. Hurst, a moderate Democrat, has crossed party lines to support Dahlquist in her Senate bid.

All three lawmakers represent the 31st Legislative District, which includes parts of east Pierce and southeast King counties.

In two of the ethics complaints dismissed this month, Roach and her supporters accused Dahlquist and Hurst of making “bigoted, hateful, derogatory and inflammatory” statements about an Islamic-based organization, according to the ethics board. Hurst and Dahlquist had supposedly made the offensive statements in a separate ethics complaint they filed against Roach.

In a decision dated Sept. 2, the board said it was dismissing the two complaints against Hurst and Dahlquist because policing legislators’ comments falls outside the board’s purview.

Another now-dismissed complaint concerned Hurst attending an evening campaign fundraiser with liquor industry lobbyists shortly after he presided over a House committee meeting that the lobbyists attended. The ethics board said Hurst didn’t violate any legislative ethics rules because the legislative work session was organized independently of the fundraiser, and because Hurst didn’t arrange the fundraising event.

Also alleged and dismissed: That Hurst threatened to release information about a judicial candidate’s divorce to cause the candidate to drop out of the race.

So what allegations are still floating around in the vitriolic atmosphere of the 31st district? Here’s the rundown:


Ethics complaint against Roach:

Hurst and Dahlquist say that Roach shouldn’t have accepted a May 2013 trip to Azerbaijan sponsored by a group that some have flagged as having ties to “radical Islamic policies.” According to Hurst and Dahlquist’s complaint, Roach was the only lawmaker who went on the trip after legislative ethics staff advised against it.


Campaign finance complaints against Dahlquist:

Roach alleges that Dahlquist illegally spent campaign money in the primary election that was supposed to be reserved for the general election. Roach also alleges that Dahlquist has committed “dozens” of campaign finance violations related to how Dahlquist’s and Hurst’s campaigns have reimbursed each other for campaign expenses. In a separate complaint, a citizen alleges that Dahlquist didn’t disclose money she shifted from her previous House campaign to her current Senate campaign.


Campaign finance complaints against Roach:

Hurst alleges that Roach hasn’t accurately reported transfers to and from a surplus campaign fund for 12 years, and that Roach delayed reporting campaign contributions many times.