Oct. 20, 2014 2:54 p.m. - Updated: 3:29 p.m.
OLYMPIA — A complaint against an Auburn legislator for taking an improper trip to Turkey and Azerbaijan last year was dismissed by the Legislative Ethics Board.
Some of the allegations were outside its authority, the board said, and the trip involved enough official and educational meetings that it wasn't an improper gift.
Republican Sen. Pam Roach was criticized by Reps. Chris Hurst and Cathy Dahlquist for joining legislators from other states on a trip to the two countries last spring while the Legislature was struggling through special sessions with its budget. They said she “abandonned her duties” to take the trip, which they contended was sponsored by groups with political views opposed to the United States, which “may have endangered citizens of her legislative district, Washington State and the United States by giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.
But the Legislative Ethics Act does not say that travel during the session is an abandonment of legislative duties, nor does it allow for claims that accepting travel should be “conditioned on the political beliefs of the donor,” the board said.
The law does set rules for accepting “reasonable expenses” for travel as a gift from another entity, the board said. But Roach's travel seemed to be made in her official capacity, it added, with discussions of energy policy and security, meetings with elected officials, and meetings on Turkish politics and the political system.
The Ethics Board had previously dismissed several complaints that Roach and her allies had filed against Hurst and Dahlquist, which included allegations they had made derogatory remarks against the sponsors of her trip.
Roach is running for re-election against Dahlquist, a fellow Republican, who is being supported by Hurst, a Democrat.
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