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Office of the Washington State Auditor - Whistleblower Investigation Report, 2017

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Whistleblower Investigation Report

Department of Corrections

Published March 13, 2017
Report No. 1018764

Office of the Washington State Auditor
Pat McCarthy
March 13, 2017
Jody Becker-Green, Acting Secretary
Department of Corrections

Report on Whistleblower Investigation
Attached is the official report on Whistleblower Case No. 17-003 at the Department of
Corrections.
The State Auditor’s Office received an assertion of improper governmental activity at the
Department. This assertion was submitted to us under the provisions of Chapter 42.40 of the
Revised Code of Washington, the Whistleblower Act. We have investigated the assertion
independently and objectively through interviews and by reviewing relevant documents. This
report contains the result of our investigation.
If you are a member of the media and have questions about this report, please contact Assistant
Director for Communications Kathleen Cooper at (360) 902-0470. Otherwise, please contact
Whistleblower Manager Jim Brownell at (360) 725-5352.
Sincerely,

Pat McCarthy
State Auditor
Olympia, WA
cc: Governor Jay Inslee
Vicki DeBoer, Audit Director/Ethics Administrator
Kate Reynolds, Executive Director, Executive Ethics Board
Jacque Hawkins-Jones, Investigator

Insurance Building, P.O. Box 40021  Olympia, Washington 98504-0021  (360) 902-0370  Pat.McCarthy@sao.wa.gov

WHISTLEBLOWER INVESTIGATION REPORT
Assertion and results
Our Office received a whistleblower complaint asserting a Department of Corrections
(Department) employee (subject) at Airway Heights Corrections Center (Center) used
Department staff mailboxes to deliver union election flyers.
We found reasonable cause to believe an improper governmental action occurred.

About the Investigation
We reviewed the subject’s emails and found an email she sent to the Center’s superintendent,
with the subject line “Teamsters”; attached to the email was a flyer. Within the email, the subject
informed the superintendent she had used her personal resources to create the flyer, but had used
the Center’s mailboxes to distribute it to those union staff members for whom she did not have
personal email addresses.
The flyer invited union members to the subject’s home to meet with the union president and
secretary-treasurer, who were running for office. The bottom of the flyer noted, “This event is
being held off site to comply with contract rules as it is a campaign/election year.”
We spoke with the subject who said she notified the superintendent after distributing the flyers in
the staff mailboxes.
When asked what the Department policy is regarding the use of the staff mailboxes for this
purpose, the superintendent said that as a shop steward, the subject could use the mailboxes for
union business, with the exception of election-related information.
State rule (WAC 292-110-010(3)(a)(vii)) says a state employee’s de minimis use of state
resources is permitted if the use is not for supporting, promoting the interests of, or soliciting for
an outside organization. Because the subject used the Center’s mailboxes to deliver a union
election flyer, we found reasonable cause to believe an improper governmental action occurred.

Agency's Plan of Resolution
The Department considers any ethics violations to be serious. The Appointing Authority has
reviewed the draft report and is prepared to follow established procedures to determine the
appropriate action to take. The process will abide by the Collective Bargaining Agreement with
the Teamsters Local Union# 117.

State Auditor’s Office Concluding Remarks
We thank Agency officials and personnel for their assistance and cooperation during the
investigation.

Washington State Auditor’s Office

Page 1

WHISTLEBLOWER INVESTIGATION CRITERIA
We came to our determination in this investigation by evaluating the facts against the criteria
below:

Assertion:
RCW 42.52.160 - Use of persons, money, or property for private gain.
(1) No state officer or state employee may employ or use any person, money, or
property under the officer's or employee's official control or direction, or in his or
her official custody, for the private benefit or gain of the officer, employee, or
another.
WAC 292-110-010 - Use of state resources
(3) Permitted personal use of state resources. This subsection applies to any use of
state resources not included in subsection (2) of this section.
(a) A state officer or employee's use of state resources is de minimis only
if each of the following conditions are met:
(i) There is little or no cost to the state;
(ii) Any use is brief;
(iii) Any use occurs infrequently;
(iv) The use does not interfere with the performance of any state
officer's or employee's official duties;
(v) The use does not compromise the security or integrity of state
property, information systems, or software;
(vi) The use is not for the purpose of conducting an outside business,
in furtherance of private employment, or to realize a private financial
gain; and
(vii) The use is not for supporting, promoting the interests of, or
soliciting for an outside organization or group.

Washington State Auditor’s Office

Page 2

 

 

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