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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Democrats In Washington Senate Slam Majority For Leak Investigation

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The partisan fallout continues in the Washington state Senate over its response to how a controversial Republican senator treats staff. Minority Democrats took to the Senate floor Wednesday to accuse the new majority of caring more about who leaked a report about Senator Pam Roach than creating a safe workplace.

Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray says leaders of the new Majority Coalition caucus are “obsessed” with finding out who leaked a preliminary report into more alleged mistreatment of staff by Senator Roach. Murray says it reminds him of Nixon’s plumbers.

“I believe that obsession -- trying to plug leaks -- has a chilling effect on employees who may want to bring complaints against any of us.”

Deputy Republican leader Don Benton responds that the leak of the Roach report was illegal and politically motivated.

“We want to protect not only employees of the Senate, but we want to protect members against erroneous accusations.”

According to the Associated Press, the leaked report concludes Roach “verbally attacked” a staffer last year in violation of Senate policies. Even so, Benton says there are no plans to discipline Roach. He notes the Senate just recently adopted new respectful workplace rules and ordered mandatory training for all members.

For her part, Senator Roach says she hasn’t seen the leaked report. “I’m willing to submit to a lie detector test and I don’t even know who my accuser is,” says Roach.

Speaking in the Senate wings Roach added that she would also like her accuser to take a lie detector test.

“Hook them up, let’s ask them questions … I’d be very satisfied with the result I’m sure," she said. "And when somebody has lied about a Washington state senator they shouldn’t be employed any longer.”

On the Web:

Sen. Pam Roach (Senate Republican Caucus)

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."