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Senator fined $500 for ethics violation in Washington state

by The Associated Press
| March 3, 2020 4:57 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Legislative Ethics Board has fined Democratic Sen. Mona Das $500 because she announced a new business at an event she attended in her role as a legislator and solicited support for future elections.

The board issued its finding Friday and released it publicly on Tuesday. The order notes that $400 of the fine will be suspended provided Das has no further ethics violations through January 2025.

At issue was a Kent Chamber of Commerce luncheon in June which Das had already received backlash from after telling the audience about experiencing “hate, sexism, racism and misogyny” during closed-door Democratic meetings. She later walked back her comments, and a Senate inquiry found no evidence that her allegations were truthful. At that same event she spoke of a new consulting business she started to promote first-time candidates, and suggested luncheon attendees help her and two other lawmakers get re-elected.

The Ethics in Public Service Act prohibits lawmakers from using public resources for private gain or for political campaigns. The ethics board report notes that even though Das may not have intended to attract clients to her new business, her comments implied they should seek her services. The finding also stated that while lawmakers are free to voice their views on participating in elections, advising people how to vote for a legislative office violates the ethics act.

The order and stipulation by the ethics board, which Das reviewed and signed last week, also requires her to undergo one-on-one ethics training with the board’s attorney.

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