A state representative is to resign this week after allegations of falsified travel-expense forms.
OLYMPIA — After allegations that she falsified travel-expense forms and directed her aides to alter expense reports, a state representative is expected to resign this week.
Rep. Susan Fagan, R-Pullman, is set to resign Friday, according to a written statement issued by House Clerk Barbara Baker. Baker said she was presented with evidence last year of discrepancies in Fagan’s travel-reimbursement forms.
In meetings between House leadership and Fagan, she denied wrongdoing but said she would repay overpayments, according to Baker. Republican leadership met with Fagan to ask her to resign.
An investigation by the state’s Legislative Ethics Board was launched in January, after Baker filed an ethics complaint stating concerns brought to House Republican leadership by legislative assistants. Allegations included that Fagan claimed expenses for fake or nonexistent events, claimed more mileage than actually driven, sought reimbursement for campaign-related activity, and directed her assistants to change expense reports.
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“Last week, we learned that the preliminary investigation of the complaint substantiated the allegations that Rep. Fagan knowingly falsified her reimbursement forms,” Baker wrote.
In an email, Baker wrote the total amount of money involved is not yet known and won’t be until the legislative ethics board finishes its investigation. In the letter she sent to the ethics board earlier this year, Baker wrote that over a 10-month period, “the total overpayments appeared to run into several thousand dollars and perhaps more.”
The investigation by the state’s Legislative Ethics Board is continuing.
In a statement Thursday, Fagan confirmed she will inform Gov. Jay Inslee of her resignation, which she said will take effect Friday.
“The problems stemming from my careless record-keeping begin and end with me,” said Fagan in prepared remarks. “I should have been more precise with my records, and I did not give my reimbursement reports the respect and attention they deserve.”
“At no point did I try to derive personal gain from expense reimbursements,” she added.
House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said in a statement: “It’s become clear that discrepancies in her reimbursement forms are more than just clerical errors.”
In a statement, House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, described the alleged misuse of state funds as a “serious breach of public trust.”
“We believed the allegations were serious when this matter initially came to our attention and requested a thorough review and investigation by the Legislative Ethics Board,” said Kristiansen.
In her statement, Fagan said that she had decided before the 2014 election that this would be her final term, “and that was a factor in my decision to not pursue this issue further.” Fagan was elected in a special election in 2009, and re-elected in 2012.
“ ‘An honor and a privilege’ is heard so often from public officials that it’s kind of cliché,” said Fagan in her statement, “but I truly have been humbled by this opportunity to serve the public.”
The 9th District stretches across much of Southeastern Washington. It encompasses all of Adams, Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties, as well as parts of Franklin and Spokane counties.
Political officers from the Republican Party in the district will have to nominate three potential replacements, according to state law. The County Councils will have to agree upon one to be appointed; if they don’t agree, Inslee will be tasked with appointing one of the recommended candidates.