Former lawmaker ousted amid #MeToo registers as lobbyist
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Former Democratic Rep. David Sawyer has registered as a lobbyist months after he lost his primary election following an investigation that found he violated the House’s policies on harassment, decorum and ethics.
The state’s Public Disclosure Commission website shows he is registered under his firm, Arrow Consulting LLC. As of this week, his sole client is The Gallery Glass & Wares, which operates marijuana stores in Tacoma, Fife, Puyallup and Spanaway.
“I understand the rules of engagement have changed in Olympia and will be respectful to my clients and the people who work in Olympia,” Sawyer wrote Monday in an email to The Associated Press. “I will work with the Chief Clerk to address any individual concerns.”
Last June, House leaders released an executive summary of a report that said Sawyer sent a House employee multiple “inappropriate and offensive” text messages over a period of three months, made comments and jokes about another House employee’s sexual orientation, and used employees’ time to discuss a newspaper’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.
Sawyer wrote in an email at the time that he would commit “to taking these findings to heart and change my behavior to earn back the trust I have lost.”
Democrat Melanie Morgan, a Franklin Pierce District school board member, was elected to Sawyer’s seat in November.
In an email sent Monday to House members and staff, Chief Clerk Bernard Dean said that staff restrictions that were placed on Sawyer when he was still in office are still in place.
“Although he is no longer a member, former Representative Sawyer’s access to staff is still restricted,” Dean wrote. “He is required to notify me if he plans to be on campus and House Security will monitor his movements.”
Sawyer is among four lawmakers who either lost re-election or resigned over the past six months following sexual misconduct allegations. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the House and Senate moved forward last year with work groups focused on addressing sexual harassment at the Capitol. Those groups have made a variety of recommendations, including the hiring of an independent human resources office where complaints can be lodged. The House group also recommended House leadership encouraging lobbyists to sign a code of conduct.
Under current law, there is no waiting period for someone who leaves state service to start lobbying at the Capitol. A bill before the state Senate, sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle at the request of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, would require a one-year break before a lawmaker, agency head or senior staffer could register as a lobbyist. That bill has a public hearing Wednesday.