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31st District Republican Pam Roach to pay back state for questionable expense reimbursements
According to a story first reported by The News Tribune reporter Jordan Schrader, Republican 31st District state Sen. Pam Roach has agreed to pay back at least $680 for questionable payments she received, and has agreed to stop requesting payments for her cell phone and her post office box. Roach is reported to have delivered four blank checks for the Senate administration to fill in.
The Courier-Herald published a story July 21 online and in the July 23 print edition concerning payments for her post office box, questionable mileage entries and allegations she uses her cell phone for both legislative and campaign purposes.
Roach has had the state pay for her post office box, P.O. Box 682, for years. She also has charged mileage to her post office box and back from her home on a nearly daily basis.
Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, who is challenging the senator, said by phone this evening Roach, "has betrayed the voters' trust."
Dahlquist said she believes since 2007 there are $34,000 in payments she would not have requested that Roach was paid for by the Senate.
The issue of her expense reports was first raised by a political consultant, Chad Minnick, working for Dahlquist.
Minnick received the expense reports and 31st District Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater, sent out a press release alleging Roach has been violating the law by, "mixing of campaign and legislative operations, locations and facilities. It seems she has also been misappropriating taxpayer money by filing inaccurate, exaggerated expense reports."
Hurst has been working to help Dahlquist unseat Roach.
Roach stated during an interview July 18 that she had maintained the post office for many years.
“It isn’t a state mail box but I’m charging them a little rent because they put mail in there,” Roach said. “I am allowing the state to send mail to me. Sometimes the state gets to pay me rent because I’m letting their mail go there. That’s how I look at this.”
During the interview she emptied a bag of mail showing personal, legislative and campaign items that had been delivered to her mail box.
Roach said multiple times she was not responsible for her expense reports, stating the it is the Secretary of the Senate Hunter Goodman and the staff reimbursing her for the expenses.
"The responsibility for this goes to the person writing the check," Roach said.,
During an exchange July 18 concerning her mileage entry of driving 649 miles to Salem, Ore. in one day, Feb. 26, and attending two caucuses, she initially said the entry was correct, or Goodman would have called.
“That didn’t occur. I was doing state business and there you go,” Roach said.
She was paid 363.44 for the trip.
The next day her legislative aide called and stated the entry was a clerical error and was not Roach's responsibly because she doesn't review the expense reports.
The aide sent an email to Goodman stating, “I owe the Senate $183.12 for the duplicate trip" and adding Roach was not responsible.
The reimbursements for Roach's cell phone, 253-797-2424 , has raised more questions.
Dahlquist and Hurst allege she has used her phone for campaign and legislative purposes.
Neither Hurst nor Dahlquist have a legislative cell phone.
Dahlquist said she uses her phone for legislative, personal and campaign issues and it would be a violation of law to charge the state.
Dahlquist described Roach's actions as an "admission of guilt" stating Roach has now admitted to taking expenses payments and using state resources for campaign purposes.
Dahlquist said, "She needs to pay it all back."
Hurst said, "She needs to apologize and pay all the money back."
Roach has not returned an email request for comment.