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Senate investigation of Sen. Roach closes

OLYMPIA – A Washington state Senate panel voted Tuesday night to close both an investigation of a Republican lawmaker accused of verbally abusing staff and an investigation into a leak of documents obtained by the Associated Press in the case.

The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee unanimously approved both actions, and also unanimously voted to release both a draft report on the investigation of Sen. Pam Roach and a new, final version of that report. The leak investigation focused on the draft report compiled by a subcommittee created last summer to investigate incidents involving Roach.

Both reports were due to be released today.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said that Roach had filed a written appeal of the final report. Upon review, the “committee felt that the matter should be closed.” Benton said Roach faces no discipline based on the complaints investigated in the report. He said the committee previously agreed to make some changes to the Senate’s “respectful workplace policy.”

Benton said no actions have been taken as a result of the leak investigation.

The documents obtained by the AP last month concluded Roach had violated the respectful workplace policy last March by verbally attacking a Senate Republican staffer responsible for upholding sanctions against her. Those 2010 sanctions came after an investigation determined that she had mistreated staff. They were reaffirmed in September as part of a legal settlement concerning a senior Republican attorney.

The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee, altered this year by a new GOP-majority coalition in the chamber, decided last month to lift the sanctions, allowing Roach to resume direct contact with staff.

The change allowed Roach to chair a Senate committee on government operations. Roach is a key vote in the new Senate coalition, since the caucus has only a one-vote advantage in the chamber.