MYNORTHWEST POLITICS

Rep. Caldier being investigated, again, after revealing redacted witnesses’ names

May 8, 2024, 2:41 PM | Updated: 2:59 pm

Image: Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Gig Harbor, is a member of the Washington House of Representatives....

Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Gig Harbor, is a member of the Washington House of Representatives. (Photo courtesy of the Washington State House Republicans)

(Photo courtesy of the Washington State House Republicans)

A Washington state representative revealed the names of several employees who were previously witnesses in an investigation into the representative’s conduct, a violation of the House of Representatives’ respectful workplace policy, a new report states.

According to the eight-page report released Monday and published in The Washington State Standard, Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Gig Harbor, publicly identified three people interviewed for an investigation to reporters last December. The names of the three individuals were redacted. It is a violation to share the identity of anyone who submits a complaint or serves as a witness in an investigation. (Readers can view a document from the state legislature stating its respectful workplace policies as a PDF here.)

Caldier was previously investigated by the chief clerk of the Washington House of Representatives last December for repeatedly belittling, berating and swearing at staff members, leaving some “traumatized” by the experience.

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Caldier demonstrated “a pattern of behavior in which she lashes out at people, makes public statements that have the impact of demeaning and embarrassing individuals and is generally disrespectful,” Sheryl Willert, an employment law expert who conducted the December 2023 investigation, wrote in her findings.

Caldier’s Spokane Airport bathroom incident

Investigations into the lawmaker began when an unidentified person recognized her in a bathroom at Spokane International Airport in 2022 as Caldier was applying makeup. When the person greeted Caldier and introduced herself, the representative ignored that person. When she tried a second time, Caldier called the individual a “horrible person” in front of multiple witnesses.

An investigation into her behavior was launched the following month, eventually leading to an 87-page document that found a pattern of communication challenges with her staff. According to the document, which The Washington State Standard published in December, Caldier was described as “unpleasant,” “a yeller” and “generally unappreciative.” The investigation found she went through 10 legislative assistants between 2015 and 2022.

Caldier appealed the findings of the December probe.

Revealing witnesses’ names, Caldier’s newest investigation

According to the Standard, Caldier claimed she was not trying to retaliate when revealing the names of certain individuals, but just wanted to get her side of the story regarding the Spokane Airport bathroom out, which involved the once unnamed individuals.

Kathleen Haggard, an attorney who spearheaded Caldier’s most recent investigation, disagreed with Caldier’s sentiment.

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“She lashed out at the witnesses not only by disclosing their names, but by portraying them as political operatives,” Haggard stated in her findings. “In doing so, she may have damaged their careers. This was a failure of respect, dignity and civility in violation of the Legislative Code of Conduct.”

Chief Clerk Bernard Dean stated decisions on both her appeal and any potential consequences will be revealed “within the coming week.” Punishment could range from a letter of reprimand to reduced staff or loss of committee assignments.

“This is how you destroy someone’s political career by destroying their reputation,” Caldier said, according to the Standard. “I have to trust the public will see through this.”

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Rep. Caldier being investigated, again, after revealing redacted witnesses’ names