Topic: Karen Fraser
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November 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM
Senate Democrats raised concerns Friday that the GOP-led majority in Senate is getting rid of top non-partisan committee staff managers.
Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said it was her understanding there was pressure from the GOP-led majority caucus to “hire some political-type individuals into the non-partisan staff. Interviews were done. Those individuals were not hired … I’m very concerned that may be the underlying cause of this” action to let the managers go.
Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, sent an email to the Democratic caucus Friday afternoon saying, “I am stunned to let you know that the MCC Leadership have advised (the committee services director and deputy director) that their services are no longer needed and they should find other opportunities by early January. My understanding is that Senators Tom, Parlette, and Fain consulted in advance and made this decision.”
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, the Senate GOP caucus chair, both declined comment. Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, could not be reached.
Fraser went on to write that “this is outside the normal Senate process for terminating an employee. Senate … policy is that an adverse action of this type shall be through a vote of the Senate Employment Committee, of which Senator Nelson and I are members.”
Fraser’s email said an Employment Committee meeting had been scheduled for late afternoon Thursday, “with extremely short notice, and then abruptly canceled.”
“At 6 pm, a meeting took place where Senator Tom advised (the committee staff managers) of the MCC Leadership decision that they should leave Senate employment by early January. (They) were told at that meeting that there were enough votes on the Employment Committee to formalize this action. I want to emphasize that NO meeting of the Employment Committee has occurred, and that as of now none are scheduled.”
Nelson said she has asked the Republican-led majority for more information.
January 22, 2013 at 4:18 PM
The state Senate has apparently scaled back plans to investigate who leaked documents involving state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, to the media.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Roach violated Senate policy by verbally attacking a Senate Republican staffer last year. The information came from leaked documents.
Republicans, who control the state Senate with the help of two Democratic senators – Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch – authorized the secretary of the Senate to investigate the matter in consultation with private counsel.
Senate Democrats sent out an email on Tuesday saying Tom would conduct the investigation by himself. Tom was appointed Senate Majority Leader by the Republicans after he crossed party lines.
In an interview on Tuesday, Tom said he planned to ask Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Tom Hoemann, the former secretary of the Senate, and the Democratic and Republican caucus attorneys a few questions related to the leak. He would not describe his questions.
If all five people say they had nothing to do with leaking the documents to AP, Tom said he’ll drop the matter. “I wanted to make sure people understood this isn’t a witch hunt,” Tom said. “We’re just trying to maintain the integrity of the institution and move forward.”
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