State Sen. Pam Roach on Tuesday said she can be an effective member of the Legislature despite her campaign for Pierce County Council and the fallout from a report of federal investigators inquiring about her conduct as a lawmaker.
Roach said she still plans to serve at least during next year’s legislative session if elected to the County Council this fall, and that voters’ faith in her ability to do both jobs — or either — isn’t shaken.
“Can I do both? There’s no one with more energy,” Roach said after a News Tribune editorial board interview for the County Council District 2 race that included Democrats Carolyn Edmonds and Pat Jenkins.
The Seattle Times has reported that federal investigators asked three people about Roach’s actions, including Pablo Monroy, a Republican candidate for the state House in the 31st Legislative District.
Monroy is running against Republican Phil Fortunato to replace Democratic Rep. Chris Hurst.
Can I do both? There’s no one with more energy.
Pam Roach, state senator from Sumner
Monroy said an FBI agent in Tacoma contacted him about Roach’s attempts to dissuade him from challenging Fortunato, a candidate she supports, according to The Times.
Roach, of Sumner, dismissed the FBI inquiries as a political attack over normal political occurrences, particularly the meeting with Monroy.
Roach’s job with the state Senate already has been a flashpoint in the County Council race, and the FBI inquiry adds fuel to pointed allegations from Edmonds that Roach can’t be a successful senator and councilwoman at the same time.
Edmonds said the FBI asking about Roach’s conduct was “serious,” and added that though no wrongdoing by Roach has been proved, voters’ faith in government still could be affected.
“If (voters) perceive an elected official is not operating with integrity or honesty or truth, then it shines a poor light on government as a whole and elected officials as a whole,” she said.
If [voters] perceive an elected official is not operating with integrity or honesty or truth, then it shines a poor light on government as a whole and elected officials as a whole.
Carolyn Edmonds, candidate for Pierce County Council
Edmonds was a state representative from 1998 until 2001, but resigned when elected to the King County Council. As a member of the Pierce County Charter Review Commissioner, she proposed a measure to block locally elected officials from simultaneously holding state offices. Voters will decide on the proposal in the fall.
Jenkins, a journalist who served on Puyallup’s School Board from 2011 to 2015, said being a council member requires full-time effort, adding he would drop his other jobs if elected.
The FBI also has asked people about Roach’s political fundraising and accusations of past inflated expense reimbursements, according to The Times.
Roach, the state’s current longest-serving senator, has attracted controversy in the past, and has faced disciplinary action and reprimands from officials including Lt. Gov. Brad Owen.
She was removed from a state task force on human trafficking in January for comments to trafficking victims some said were offensive.
Roach’s son Dan Roach serves on the Pierce County Council and is running for Pierce County executive.
Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826