The legislature’s muzzle has been removed from State Senator Pam Roach. She is once again allowed to talk with staffers after years of being told to keep quiet.
And she apparently had plenty to say.
First, let me take you back to the beginning in 2009.
Sen. Pam Roach claimed she drew the ire of former Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt after campaigning against him for the top post in the caucus several years ago. In an hour-long meeting with reporters, the Auburn lawmaker described herself as an upstanding professional who has raised successful children and devoted herself to humanitarian work.
Roach denied that she’s ever mistreated anybody and complained that the Senate process doesn’t allow her to know her accusers or properly defend herself. Hewitt declined to comment, other than saying that he didn’t want to rehash “old, false allegations.”
Mike Hoover, a former GOP attorney in the Senate who pursued a claim against the state for having a hostile work environment, said his effort was never an attempt to persecute or embarrass anybody.
As Roach addressed the incident in question by Hoover, “I have not mistreated anybody. I walked in a room and he was telling Senator [Janea Holmquist Newbry] she could not, should not have a press release. The fact that she had just spoken to the largest rally in state history and spoken to the tea party rally, my feeling there is that the state attorney is there to say ‘Go to the Democratic side and argue why you can do it.’ So I came back around and I addressed this with Mr. Hoover and I said, ‘If you can’t get the job done, we can find someone else.'”
Senator Roach was banned from her caucus the following year because of that conversation and other accusations that she mistreated legislative staffers. She was told she couldn’t even speak with legislative staffers.
She said she felt like she had no rights when she was brought before the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee.
“Somebody that burgles the house, who rapes a child that causes a fire, and causes a building to go down – they have more rights than I do. ‘Oh but you’re a senator,’ Sorry! That puts you in a special class alright. Puts you right up here going to [Facilities and Operations Committee.] But believe me, if you’re staff, you can stay anonymous, you can say whatever you want.”
That’s when she says the real firestorm started, when she tried to find a way to defend herself in the media by calling KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.
“So from an Internet cafe [in Honduras] I went on the Dave Ross Show for an hour. I wanted people to know how I was being treated. When you do that, you’re inviting hell to your doorstep.”
It was after her conversation with Dave that she says her own party started trying to ruin her “good name.”
“You know it’s really kind of sad, isn’t it? You get a phone call, you don’t have any paperwork and you get slammed the next day when you wake up with all this stuff in the paper. Is that fair?
Just this week, a senate panel removed those sanctions against her. Roach is now chairing a Senate Committee focused on government operations.
And, she is also facing new accusations that she spoke out of turn when she had a conversation with a legislative staffer while she was under that gag order.
In response, Ross said he remember talking to Roach about her missionary work in Honduras, but not about other issues. He laughed, “It’s always nice to be mentioned.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.