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Eye On Olympia

Roach flap one of many…

From our suburban editions this morning:

Republican Sen. Pam Roach caused a lot of consternation for Senate GOP leaders last week, when she blasted them in an e-mail to more than three dozen journalists.

A quick review: The clash occurred shortly after Republican leaders banned Roach from talking to many staffers, allegedly because of her constant demands, complaining about lawmakers and demanding a sort of loyalty oath from workers.

This was not the first public clash for Roach, nor the first time she’s been accused of abusing legislative staff. In the late 1990s, she famously railed on the Senate floor against someone who’d moved some flowers from her desk.

In 1998, Roach was reprimanded for “violat(ing) the Senate’s respectful workplace policy.”

The same thing happened in 1999, except that this time Senate leaders offered her counseling “or training in professional treatment of staff to assist you in improving these relationships.”

In 2000, the Senate agreed to pay $2,500 for counseling for a worker who said she’d been traumatized by working with Roach.

When a former intern and aide for Roach complained about Roach’s repeated “angry verbal outbursts” in 2003, the senator demanded the woman be fired – and then led a group of reporters into the basement of a Senate office building, trying to find the woman and confront her. Another aide for Roach quit that year after it was discovered that he was going through other people’s e-mails.

The Statehouse is “a highly stressful environment” and workers and staff need to have “reasonably thick skins,” the 2003 reprimand acknowledged. But chasing a former staffer around with TV crews is beyond the pale, it said.

Roach is doing charity work in Honduras. But this story’s not over.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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