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Originally published January 29, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Page modified January 29, 2010 at 10:13 PM

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GOP caucus bans state Sen. Pam Roach, tells her to get anger counseling

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, has been banned from the Senate Republican caucus in Olympia after colleagues told her she has repeatedly mistreated staff and should get counseling to manage her anger.

Seattle Times staff reporters

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, has been banned from the Senate Republican caucus after colleagues told her she has repeatedly mistreated staff and should get counseling to manage her anger.

A letter sent to Roach by Senate GOP leaders said an internal investigation had concluded "it would be best to physically separate you from the caucus staff and from other Republican Senators while we are working on the floor."

Senate Republican leaders, so far, have not been available for comment.

Roach said she was being singled out by Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, and other Senate GOP leaders because she has criticized them.

"This is a leadership that wants to persecute me," Roach said in an interview Friday afternoon.

Roach said that in 2008, Hewitt had screamed at her in an off-campus Republican caucus meeting but was never punished for that behavior.

Roach was first elected to the state Senate in 1990 and currently serves on the Government Operations and Elections Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Last year she ran unsuccessfully to become the King County Elections director.

Roach has been warned or reprimanded several times over the years about how she treats staff.

The letter from her caucus said its workplace policy states senators "shall not engage in any behavior or make any comments which are demeaning and/or derogatory toward people" if it interferes with their work or creates an "intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."

The letter, dated Jan. 20, says Roach has "violated this policy on numerous occasions. Your conduct has been the basis for action on five separate occasions" in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2008 and 2010.

The most recent incident happened last April in the Senate GOP caucus room, which is where Republican senators gather to discuss legislation and decide their agenda.

According to an investigation by an outside law firm, Roach berated Michael Hoover, a Senate attorney.

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The letter says "the verbal attack on a Senate staff member was the basis for your recent ... reprimand" and goes on to tell Roach that as a result: "You have no access to the SRC [Senate Republican Caucus] caucus room at any time — or any other SRC meeting site. For the purposes of SRC Procedures and Policies, you shall not be considered an eligible member of the caucus to vote on caucus matters."

Roach acknowledged the incident and being banned from the caucus, but said she later apologized to Hoover and didn't think it was a big deal.

Hoover declined to comment.

The letter concludes by telling Roach that while she is a "passionate advocate" for her district, she has also "demonstrated an ongoing pattern of treating your co-workers and employees with hostility and anger. As your fellow Senators, it is difficult to be in a room with you when you erupt in anger. For our employees it is unacceptable.

"We encourage you to avail yourself of one of the numerous counseling offers the Senate has made over the years to deal with your anger management."

Andrew Garber: 360-236-8268 or agarber@seattletimes.com.

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