Jolt

Weekend Reading: GOP Staffer vs. GOP Sen. Pam Roach

By Josh Feit April 13, 2012



Want some summer reading for what's looking to be beautiful Seattle weekend? Dig in to Republican Senate Senior Counsel Mike Hoover's $1.75 million claim against "Zero-to-ten-on-the-angry-scale" Sen. Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn). Yesterday, Hoover's attorney's filed an official tort claim with the state.

Hoover is the Republican senate caucus staffer who (literally) thought he was going to die when the volatile Roach (R-31, Auburn) was allowed back in to the Republican caucus.[pullquote]Hoover's claim goes further, claiming that GOP senators escalated Roach's pattern of abuse by telling him to get with the program.[/pullquote]

"On Friday, March 2," Hoover's claim states dramatically, "he experienced chest pains, shortness of breath, and accelerated heart rate. He believed he might be having a heart attack, and he sent an e-mail to his wife telling her that he loved her and their sons because he wanted them to have a time/date-stamped message that his last thoughts were of them in case he died."

Roach had been barred from contact with Senate Republican Caucus staff due to her "abusive treatment" of staffers, including a "vicious" tirade against Hoover, who, as senate counsel, had headed up two investigations in 2003 into allegations by former Roach staffers that she created an "hostile work environment." She was also banned from the caucus room and from caucusing with her party.

But Republicans allowed her back into the caucus, according to senate documents, during this year's budget fight in exchange for her crucial 25th vote for their now-famous budget coup on March 2; the sanctions against Roach were, in fact, lifted that very day.

Even though the three Democratic senators had crossed over to the GOP side, the Republicans still didn't have the necessary 25 votes to run the floor without Roach, and she took advantage of the situation, Hoover's claim states, to have the restrictions lifted:

In January 2012, the restrictions enacted to protect Mr. Hoover were suddenly and unceremoniously lifted. The SRC encountered a unique opportunity when it persuaded three Democrats to cross over and join the SRC on a cherished budget bill. Senator Roach recognized an opportunity to blackmail the caucus by refusing to provide her vote unless sanctions against her were lifted. The SRC capitulated. First it offered to restore her access to the caucus room, keeping staff limitations in place. When that was not enough, it caved completely and agreed to restore all privileges. ...

Caucus members made clear to Mr. Hoover that the trade with Senator Roach was made solely for political reasons. Absolutely nothing had changed with respect to Senator Roach’s penchant for abusing and harassing staff, particularly those like Hoover whom she blames for exposing and resisting her abuse.


Hoover's claim goes further to claim that GOP senators escalated Roach's pattern of abuse by telling him to get with the program or leave. From his claim:

Several caucus members have approached Mr. Hoover to ask him to agree with what they have done, say that he understands, and even tell them that he approves of their actions. Mr. Hoover feels pressured to make reassuring statements that are false and not at all representative of his true feelings—including one to the full leadership of the caucus, at a private meeting.

He even felt pressured to quit his job and leave the Senate so that the caucus could more easily make a trade with Senator Roach. He made this offer in an e-mail to the caucus leader on the morning of March 2, after reviewing an e-mail chain in which leadership described the difficulties they were having in securing her vote. Although his offer was declined and he was assured that leadership would “fight to the end for our staff,” mere hours later the caucus removed all sanctions. He found this incredibly humiliating.

Similarly distressing are some of the incredibly callous statements various members of the caucus have made to Mr. Hoover in discussing the trade with him since all sanctions against Senator Roach were lifted. It has been suggested that Mr. Hoover can leave and find another job; he should consider apologizing or trying to “make peace” with Senator Roach; he can stop coming to caucus so that she cannot attack him; he should wait until a gubernatorial appointment can be secured for Senator Roach so she will be gone from the caucus; and/or, he should just wait for her to attack him again and then make another hostile work environment claim.

Mr. Hoover understandably has no faith that the caucus can or will take any steps to protect him or other staff from Senator Roach’s behavior in the future. It is ridiculous to expect him to avail himself yet again of a system that has so thoroughly failed to protect him and others in the past.


The Hoover letter comes with tabs and footnotes that lay out past complaints against Roach. The whole document is fascinating reading.

Here are some highlights of Roach's volatile and odd behavior, according to past senate investigations:

• In 1999, Roach's legislative aide, Chloie Miller, provided temporary housing to two senate pages, one of whom was a relative of supreme court justice Richard Sanders. The page, according to court documents, "informed Chloie of some unflattering information concerning Justice Sanders," which she repeated to Roach, prompting Roach to insist that she reveal the source of her information. After Miller refused, Roach asserted that she was mentally unstable, psychotic, bipolar, and off her meds. Later, Miller told senate staffers investigating the incidents that Roach had made comments about her weight, had emotional outbursts, and forced her to participate in unethical behavior like helping her prepare for an appearance on KIRO radio.

• In 2003, one of Roach's legislative aides, Kelly Hinton, printed off some personal emails he had accessed to and from two former legislative aides without the aides' knowledge and gave them to Roach, who asked Hinton to keep monitoring the former aides' emails and share them with her, which he did "in 'real time,' more or less as they were being sent or reviewed by [one of the former aides] herself." Roach subsequently led a group of press down to one of the aides' offices to confront her about the emails, which included a claim that Roach had pointed a gun at a staff member.

• Hoover charges that after he expressed concern about Republican Sen. Jannea Holmquist posting photos of herself at a Tea Party rally on her official government web site, Roach "went from zero to ten on the angry scale," telling him he did not do his job, that he was paid too much, that he was "always plotting against the senators," and that he should be fired. Later, she hurled the same allegations at Hoover, adding, "I don't ever want to talk to you again." Witnesses who spoke to investigators unanimously back up Hoover's account of the incident.

• Greg Lynch, superintendent of the Kitsap School District, says on one occasion, Roach came to a meeting where he was speaking a half-hour late and that once his speech was over, was "argumentative and disrespectful," making "comments that were tangential to the presentation and seemed designed for her own self-promotion." She also accused Lynch of winking at her during the speech.
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