Anne Fennessy said today she will quit as chief spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Lowry, the second abrupt departure by a high-level Lowry aide since the surfacing of an allegation he sexually harassed an employee.
Fennessy said her resignation, effective “in a few weeks,” was based partly on the fact that she was the supervisor of the woman who is accusing Lowry of sexual harassment, Susanne Albright, a deputy press secretary who quit in January.
“As Susanne’s supervisor, I am involved in this case and cannot represent the governor” in dealings with the press over the issue, she said in an interview. Fennessy has scrupulously avoided taking sides on the issue, but said she has never been harassed by Lowry nor has she seen him harass others.
The allegation is being investigated by a lawyer chosen by Lowry’s staff. “I can’t really speak to it (the allegation and investigation), and that’s not fair to the governor,” she said.
Fennessy said she has wanted to quit for some time, saying she was tired from a job “that never ends.”
Fennessy follows Lowry’s chief counsel, Jenny Durkan, who quit last week. Durkan said the harassment accusation had nothing to do with her departure. In a prepared statement, Lowry said, “It is with deep regret that I accept the resignation of Anne Fennessy. When Anne agreed to serve as my communications director in 1992, we both knew that the job would require a tremendous amount of time and energy.”
Fennessy, who served as press secretary to former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer and executive director of the National Abortion Rights Action League, said she planned to help Lowry find a replacement. She said nobody had been selected so far.
She acknowledged her departure “may seem like it is not the best timing. But the fact is, there is no good time to leave. It is just time.”<