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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."

Ethics Board Fines Washington Legislator For Posting Taxpayer-Funded Videos On Facebook

Washington Legislature
Washington state Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, a Republican from Puyallup, was fined $5,000 by the state Legislative Ethics Board.

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has fined state Rep. Melanie Stambaugh $5,000 for posting taxpayer funded videos and photos to a campaign-related Facebook page. The Republican from Puyallup said she will challenge the ethics ruling.

Stambaugh was accused of embedding 19 videos and 25 photos produced by legislative staff to a personal Facebook page that also included campaign materials. State ethics law prohibits lawmakers from using state resources to advance their campaigns.

Stambaugh argued that she used the photos and videos to communicate with her constituents and that her Facebook page is not a campaign page. She said she plans to file an appeal.

“I know that the fine right now is $5,000,” Stambaugh said. “If they charged me a penny it would have been too much because these are freely available items and as a legislator it is my job to inform my constituents.”

Stambaugh said she’s the victim of bullying, intimidation and retaliation. The Ethics Board said it has a “zero tolerance for campaign-related personal use of legislative facilities.”

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."