Lt. Gov. Brad Owen wants state lawmakers to change the way ethics investigations work. It appears that the Democrat is still “peeved at a well-publicized $15,000 ethics fine” he was slapped with last year.
Owen’s fine came as a result of a settlement with the Washington State Executive Ethics Board for using state resources for his anti-bullying nonprofit organization. The Seattle Times,
Staff in Owen’s office had worked on taxpayer time to help the nonprofit Strategies for Youth, which had paid Owen’s wife a salary. Owen also worked with lobbyists to raise money for the group, and the couple was allowed to drive a truck purchased by the nonprofit for personal use
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Owen continues to insist that he did nothing wrong. Defecting blame, he called the state’s ethics process “unfair” and declared he was “madder than hell.”
So, Owen is pushing two ethics bills in an attempt to get back at those he believes threated him unfairly for his clear violation of ethics rules. The Seattle Times,
Senate Bill 5771 would prohibit the state Attorney General’s Office from conducting investigations for the Executive Ethics Board, as occurs now. Instead, the AG’s office would be required to defend accused state officials like Owen in cases alleging violations related to “official duties.”
A second proposal, Senate Bill 5785, would define such official duties broadly to include “any tasks or actions” related to a state official’s position “that are intended to promote, educate and serve the interests of the state of Washington.”
Democrat State Sen. Marko Liias, the same senator who is receiving an inflated salary for his part-time position writing the City of Mukilteo’s newsletter, is sponsoring SB 5771. According to the Seattle Times, Liias felt sympathy for Owen’s plight. Liias said, “I don’t believe this bill is perfect. I believe it is an attempt to start a conversation.”
Considering the allegations of cronyism surrounding his part-time gig, it isn’t surprising Liias has sympathy for Owen. Here’s hoping Liias uses his next $60,000 newsletter to “start a conversation” on Owen’s bills.