Becker: We must discourage legislators from making false accusations about each other

Proposed changes to Senate’s Respectful Workplace Policy to be considered by Senate work group


OLYMPIA…….Sen. Randi Becker, caucus chair for the Senate Republican Caucus, proposed changes to the Senate’s Respectful Workplace Policy that could ensure that the Senate must deal with only good-faith accusations of misconduct.


Becker, R-Olympia, submitted the changes to the Facilities and Operations Committee, which oversees administrative matters for the Senate. The F&O Committee decided to refer those changes to the bipartisan work group who wrote the original respectful workplace policy implemented in 2019.


Becker’s proposal stems from the final report from an investigation that found that Sen. Mona Das made false and disparaging statements about fellow members of her caucus, despite her initial denial about having done so. Since receiving the report, no actions have been taken that would discourage others from making the same mistake.


The report concluded that, “…there is no evidence that any member of the Senate Democratic Caucus made sexist or racist statements in the caucus room during the 2019 legislative session.”


Becker, R-Olympia, issued the following statement after the committee’s decision:


“We have not collectively said or done anything in response to the findings in the report that Senator Das made false statements about fellow members. How are we discouraging her, or others, from similar behavior in the future?


“I am very passionate about this. I really believe in the importance of legislators feeling free to express ideas, experiences and feelings. If we don’t have consequences for this behavior, I believe that it will have a chilling effect on our ability to properly engage with each other as legislators.


“It was said several times during the [Facilities and Operations] meeting that the respectful workplace policy worked as it should because there was an investigation and a report. But that’s not enough. Since the report concluded that there was no evidence that Sen. Das’s accusations are true, we should take action, or it’s as if we think what she did is ok.


“I proposed two changes and I’ve been assured that the work group who wrote the original policy will make this its highest priority so we will have clear consequences in place for future behavior of this nature before session begins in January.”


The Senate’s Respectful Workplace Workgroup consists of Senate staff and members from both sides of the aisle, and from non-partisan committee services. The group spent a year writing a more current and comprehensive policy for workplace behavior. It will meet to review Becker’s proposal and will make recommendations for the F&O Committee to consider before the beginning of the 2020 legislative session.


Following is Sen. Becker’s proposal:


Inappropriate Use of Policy/False Accusations


The Senate will not tolerate false accusations or the use of this policy for political purposes.


Anyone who knowingly makes a false report about a violation of this policy to a supervisor, Senate administration of the Senate human resources officer has violated the “Other Offensive Conduct” portion of this policy and will be disciplined as appropriate.


Any Senator who knowingly makes a false accusation to any person about any other Senator which, if true, would constitute discrimination, harassment or other offensive conduct under the policy, has violated the “Other Offensive Conduct” portion of this policy and will be disciplined as appropriate.  In addition, the Facilities and Operations Committee will propose a motion of formal censure by the Senate.


This section does not apply to any report or statement made in good faith.