STATE OF WASHINGTON
EXECUTIVE ETHICS BOARD
REGULAR BOARD MEETING MINUTES
January 7, 2000
The Executive Ethics Board convened in Regular Session at 1:00 p.m., at the Lee Ann Miller AGO Conference Center, Rowe 6, Building 1, 4224 6th Avenue SE, Lacey, Washington 98504.
Present: Cheryl Rohret, Chair
Sutapa Basu, Vice Chair
Paul Gillie, Board Member
Janet Lim, Board Member
Also Present: Meg Grimaldi, Executive Secretary
William B. Collins, Counsel
a. ROLL CALL
Chair Rohret, Vice Chair Basu and Board Member Gillie were present. Also present were Executive Secretary Meg Grimaldi and Counsel William B. Collins. Ms. Grimaldi announced the resignation of Gwendolyn Foyd from the Board. Board Member Lim arrived at 1:20 p.m.
b. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chair Rohret asked for a motion to approve the agenda as presented. Vice Chair Basu so moved. Board Member Gillie seconded the motion and the Board unanimously approved the agenda.
c. APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM NOVEMBER 12, 1999 REGULAR MEETING
Board Member Basu moved to approve the November 12, 1999, meeting minutes as written. Board Member Gillie seconded the motion and the Board unanimously approved.
2. REQUEST FOR AN ADVISORY OPINION
a. Withdrawal of request from the Clark College Foundation. Ms. Grimaldi informed the Board that the Clark College Foundation had voted to directly employ its employees, rather than allow the employees to continue in dual employment for Clark College. Therefore, the ethics questions at issue in the Foundation's request for an advisory opinion were resolved, and the Foundation requested withdrawal of its request. The Board consented to withdraw the advisory opinion from further consideration.
b. Post-State Employment Restrictions. Ms. Grimaldi summarized a request for an advisory opinion relating to whether stock ownership in a post-state employer conferred a beneficial interest in that employer's contracts with a former state employee's state agency. A secondary question related to whether a post-state employer could confer stock options on a former employee, provided the employee could not exercise the options for two years after leaving the state to avoid a violation of RCW 42.52.080(2). Discussion followed. Board member Lim asked whether the Board could establish a de minimis level of stock ownership that would not create a prohibited beneficial interest. Mr. Collins advised that the Board had previously discussed this question, but had never issued an advisory opinion on this point. He further advised that based on the state's ethics law and the Board's previous opinions, stock ownership created a beneficial interest regardless of the value of the stocks owned. Ms. Lim suggested the Board consider the issue again at a later date. Chair Rohret observed that the draft opinion was consistent with the Board's earlier opinions.
Board member Lim moved to accept the draft opinion. Board member Basu seconded the motion. The Board unanimous approved the draft opinion for issue.
3. CONTRACT APPROVAL. Ms. Grimaldi briefed an agreement between Walla Walla Community College and the CVS partnership to transfer a water right to the college. The agreement was intended to avoid a violation of RCW 42.52.030 by President VanAusdle who is one of the partners in CVS. Ms. Grimaldi recommended approval of the contract. Board member Gillie expressed the opinion that the agreement protected Mr. VanAusdle against a violation of the ethics law. The Board unanimously consented to approve the agreement.
4. APPROVAL OF CIVIL ACTION.
Ms. Grimaldi presented a request from the Attorney General to commence a civil action pursuant to RCW 42.52.490 for the purpose of recovering an overpayment of salary to a state employee. Vice Chair Basu expressed her concern that the state employee appeared to have no involvement with the overpayment and questioned why a civil action should be brought. Other Board members agreed with Ms. Basu. Ms. Basu moved to take no action on the request. Mr. Collins clarified whether Ms. Basu intended that no action be taken or that the request be disapproved. Ms. Basu withdrew her motion and moved that the Board disapprove the request. This motion died for lack of a second. Board members agreed to take no action and to hold this item for discussion at its March meeting when Ms. Basu would be in attendance.
5. SETTLEMENTS/HEARINGS – EEB CASE NO. 99-08. Ms. Grimaldi presented a proposed Stipulation in EEB Case No. 98-08 to resolve an allegation that a state employee had improperly provided Husky football tickets to family members and friends Under this Stipulation, the former employee agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $230 and a civil penalty in the amount of $50.
STAFF BRIEFING - Ms. Grimaldi briefed the Board on the following issues:
Status of Board Members. Ms. Grimaldi informed Board members that the State Auditor had provided a list of three candidates, including Board Member Gillie, to the Governor for appointment to the term that expired on September 30, 1999. Review of Ethics Program. Ms. Grimaldi provided an overview of non-enforcement activities for the Year 1999 which included 59 training sessions on the state's ethics laws, and 47 staff opinions. Amendment to Allow Receipt of Awards for Meritorious Public Service. Ms. Grimaldi reported that members of the Legislative Ethics Board did not indicate strong support for the amendment, and recommended that the Board decline to pursue the amendment at this time. Board Staffing [added item at request of Board Members]. Ms. Grimaldi indicated only three applicants had indicated interest in interviewing for the clerk position, and suggested that the Board might be better served if the position were reviewed and possibly reclassified to assist in providing ethics training and developing educational materials. Mr. Collins suggested that a specific proposal be developed for review by the Board. Board members concurred with Mr. Collins.
PUBLIC COMMENTS/BOARD COMMENTS–Ms. LouAnn Dunlap-Gordon, Department of Natural Resources, and Ms. Gail Swanson, Employment Security Department, discussed the role of the ethics advisors group in discussing and resolving ethics issues in state government. Both requested that the Board continue its support of the group and the involvement of Ms. Grimaldi.
Vice Chair Basu discussed the possibility of holding a Board/Staff retreat in April to set goals and to discuss other issues of importance. Ms. Basu suggested contacting Dr. J. Patrick Dobel, an Associate Dean at the Daniel J. Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs, to facilitate the retreat based on his work in ethics. April 15 was suggested as a possible retreat date.
Chair Lim called the Board into Executive Session at 2:25 to discuss Board enforcement actions. The Executive Session ended at 4:00 p.m.
REGULAR MEETING RESUMED - The Board approved the Stipulation and Order for EEB Case No. 99-08.
The public meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.
Approved by the Executive Ethics Board on January 7, 2000.
MARGARET A. GRIMALDI, Executive Secretary