July 8, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Auditor: Ecology employee gave massages to co-workers on state time
A state Department of Ecology employee gave more than 85 hours of free massages to coworkers during workdays last year, according to an audit released Monday.
Shannon Cline, who recently left the agency, was attending a massage-therapy school and was required to practice a certain number of hours to obtain a license, according to a state Auditor’s Office report that cited the six-year spill responder for conducting personal business on state time.
But Cline, reached on her cell phone late Monday afternoon, said she gave the massages on her breaks and with the permission of her supervisor and the building manager.
“The audit report is inaccurate in many ways,” she said.
The report alleges that Cline gave 67 massages that typically lasted between an hour and an hour and a half. They occurred throughout the year but peaked in August, when she spent 15 hours of state time giving massages.
Cline said she conducted only 34 hours of massages.
The massages and related emails sent on the state system constituted a violation of the state ethics law, according to the audit, which also dinged Cline for discussing with coworkers about payment for massages after she obtained a license.
Cline insisted it was not a violation because she did not profit from the massages and because they fit under the law’s “de minimus” standard for personal items on work time.
In response to the findings, the state Department of Ecology told auditors it would talk with the former employee’s supervisors and issue an agency-wide reminder about the rules, according to the report.
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