State Senator Pam Roach (R-31) has filed suit against challenger and Sumner Councilman Matt Richardson over statements made in his voter’s pamphlet statement.
It is an unusual step that is rarely taken, but allowed under RCW 29A.32.090, which states that a candidate’s statement “shall not contain false or misleading statements about the candidate’s opponent.”
According to the suit, submitted June 30, Richardson’s statements about Roach’s sanctions from the Republican Caucus are false.
In his statement, Richardson wrote “Unfortunately, the permanent sanctions against Pam Roach prevent her from contact with senate staff, and more critically, from meeting with other republicans.”
Roach challenges Richardson on three points: First, she states the sanctions against her are not permanent, but subject to alteration by Roach and the senior leadership; Second, she states there is no sanction preventing her from working with senate staff; and Third, Roach states there is no sanction that prevents her with meeting with other republicans.
In her statement, however, Roach says “I am not allowed access to the Senate Republican Caucus staff.”
The remarks stem from the Jan. 20 letter from the caucus informing Roach that she had been voted out of the Caucus because of “hostile behavior” toward staff.
The Jan. 20 letter states “The 2008 protocal – which restircts your access to caucus staff – will continue; You have no access to the SRC caucus room at any time – or any other SRC meeting site; For purposes of the SRC procedures and policies, you shall not be considered an eligible member of the caucus to vote on caucus matters.”
The 2008 protocol it references states “All contact with caucus staff shall be between the legislative assistant and caucus staff. Member shall not contact caucus staff in person, via phone, email or through any other means” and “Work product will be produced by caucus staff and sent back to the legislative assistant.”
The January letter also states the issue “may be revisited in one year with the mutual agreement of you and the caucus.”
The dispute will be heard by a Thurston County Superior Court Judge next week, in accordance with the RCW. If the judge rules in Roach’s favor, the statements must come out of the pamphlet.
Roach on Thursday said she filed the suit simply because the statement was not true.
“He’s made false statements and I’m going to take care of the ones against me,” she said, though declined to comment on specifics, except to say she can talk to any republican she wants and said she has been endorsed by Attorney General Rob McKenna, Congressman Dave Reichert and King County Councilman Reagan Dunn among others.
Richardson said he stood by his statement and said he was talking about the Senate and said Roach was “parsing words.”
“Obviously I’m not talking about every republican in the country,” he said.
Richardson also disputed Roach’s claim that the sanctions were not permanent.
“Every indication we’ve seen from newspapers … and senate leadership is it’s not going to be changed,” he said. “In effect, it’s permanent.”
Richardson and Roach are the two “prefers Republican” candidates in the Aug. 17 31st district senate primary. Also running are Democrats Raymond Bunk and Ron Wiegelt. The top two vote-getters will move on to the general election in November.