State Senate GOP attorney Mike Hoover filed a claim in April, alleging Republicans created a hostile work environment by letting Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, back into their caucus in exchange for a budget vote.
OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate has settled a $1.75 million tort claim filed by Senate GOP attorney Mike Hoover, who alleged a hostile work environment.
Hoover will get no money from the settlement with the state Senate, except for as much as $15,000 in attorney fees. In addition, the Senate reaffirmed its commitment to a respectful workplace and to promptly investigate complaints. In exchange, Hoover dropped his claim, made in April.
Under the agreement, Hoover also will be on paid administrative leave for no more than 45 days from the date of the settlement, which was Sept. 26, or until he finds new employment.
Hoover filed the claim in April, alleging Republicans created a hostile work environment by letting Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, back into their caucus in exchange for a budget vote.
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At the time, his attorney argued Hoover had been the brunt of abuse from Roach for years. Allowing her back into the caucus — after she had been banned for past behavior — made Hoover’s job with the Senate untenable, he said.
Roach released a statement saying she was traveling out of the country.
“I believe the Senate process for such outrageous accusations and lies about me by Mr. Hoover, should be reviewed,” she wrote in part, adding later, “while I am not at liberty to comment directly on the specifics, I am happy that this matter is over and am totally vindicated in this matter aimed solely at defaming my good character.”
As part of the agreement, the Senate has reaffirmed 2010 sanctions against Roach, which barred her from having direct contact with staff members.
“Inquiries and requests for staff assistance may be made by the senator’s legislative assistant to the appropriate Caucus Staff Member,” the sanctions stated.
In a statement released Friday, Hoover said, “I will not receive any money; however, some things are more important than money. Among them, treating people with decency and respect.”
Under the agreement, the Senate will “undertake more extensive training in its policies, and it is considering revising the policy to provide for Senators — one from each caucus — to act as respectful workplace facilitators,” Hoover said in his statement.
Hoover would not comment further when contacted by phone except to say he’s looking for a new job and hopeful he’ll find something soon.
Roach was banned from her caucus in 2010 over her treatment of Hoover. She was able to vote but was barred from the caucus room where her colleagues discussed legislation, and she could not deal directly with caucus staff or counsel.
In an interview earlier this year, Roach said she was allowed back into the caucus when she cast a key vote that allowed the Senate Republicans, with the help of three Democrats, to pass their own version of the state budget.
“I had some things I wanted to have,” she said at that time, adding one of them was being allowed back into the caucus. “And that occurred.”
The incident that resulted in Roach’s being banned from her caucus began after a Republican senator returned from giving a speech at a rally and wanted to post related information and photos on her website, Hoover told investigators at the time.
Hoover raised concerns, given an ongoing ethical debate over the use of public funds for political purposes. Roach, who was first elected to the Senate in 1990, became angry at Hoover during the discussion, according to the Senate investigation.
“Senator Roach’s comments quickly devolved into a vicious and personal attack on me,” Hoover wrote. “She said I didn’t advocate for the caucus and didn’t do my job … and should be fired.”
The internal-investigation report said several witnesses corroborated his account.
Roach disagreed with the account at the time, saying she was being singled out and that the GOP leadership “wants to persecute me.” She appealed the decisions by the Senate and GOP leaders to reprimand her and ban her from the caucus. Her appeal was denied.
Andrew Garber: 360-236-8266 or email@example.com