7141 Cleanwater Dr SW – 3rd Floor Conference Room N385 – Tumwater, WA


July 13, 2007

Regular Meeting Minutes



A.   Preliminary Business

1.    Roll Call

The regular meeting of the Washington State Executive Ethics Board (EEB) was called to order by Chair Evelyn Yenson at 8:35 a.m. Chair Yenson noted that Member Akana was excused from the meeting. In attendance were Vice Chair Judy Golberg and Members Neil Gorrell and Kyle Usrey. Board staff in attendance included:  Executive Director Susan Harris, Assistant Attorney General Michael Tribble, Administrative Officer Ruthann Bryant and Investigators Sue Jones and Nancy Lewin. 


Chair Yenson also noted that this would be Member Usrey’s last meeting and expressed appreciation for his service on the Board.  Member Usrey thanked the Board and staff for their patience and assistance during his tenure.


2.    Approval of Agenda


Motion 07-047 Moved by Member Gorrell, seconded by Member Usrey:


The Board approves the July 13, 2007 agenda as presented.


The motion passed unanimously.


3.    Approval of May 11, 2007 Meeting Minutes

Vice Chair Golberg noted that the approval date at the end of the document was incorrect and requested “the” in the second paragraph on page 2 be removed.


Motion 07-048 Moved by Member Gorrell, seconded by Member Usrey:


The Board approves the May 11, 2007 minutes as amended.


The motion passed unanimously.


B.   Approval of Stipulated Facts, Conclusion and Order

            EEB Case No. 07-033 (Roger Marshall)

Susan Harris briefed the Board on the proposed stipulation and order. Mr. Marshall agreed that he violated RCW 42.52.160 when he sent an email to approximately 11,500 state employees regarding pending legislation. The parties agreed that Mr. Marshall would pay a $500 penalty. The Board’s deliberation on the proposal was deferred until closed session.


C.   Approval of Agency Policy

Ms. Harris provided a draft policy submitted by the Office of the Insurance Commission regarding Ethics. She noted that this policy is an update to one approved by the Board in 2004.


Motion 07-049 Moved by Vice Chair Golberg, seconded by Member Usrey:


The Board approves Office of the Insurance Commission policy on Ethics as presented.


The motion passed unanimously.


Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Moran arrived at 8:45 a.m.


D.   Advisory Opinion Request

Review of Draft Amended Advisory Opinion 98-10 Receipt of Door Prizes

Susan Harris reported on a draft amendment to Advisory Opinion 98-10 Receipt of Door Prizes. The amendment clarifies that a door prize received by a state officer or employee attending an event on behalf of a state agency becomes property of the agency.  The agency must follow state rules and regulations on the disposition of surplus or unwanted property.


Motion 07-050 Moved by Member Gorrell, seconded by Vice Chair Golberg:


The Board adopts Amended Advisory Opinion 98-10 Receipt of Door Prizes as amended.


The motion passed unanimously.


E.  Staff Reports

1.  Executive Director’s Report

Susan Harris reported on the end of year budget as well as the new biennium allotments.  She also provided an update on case trends noting that use of resources remains the most common area for violations.


She also reported on upcoming training sessions scheduled with Human Resource Managers and the Executive Assistant’s Group. Ms. Harris also noted that she is currently researching costs associated with developing training videos for the website.


2.  AAG Report

Chair Yenson noted that it is good to have Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Moran back with the Board. Member Gorrell noted that Nancy Krier will be missed and also welcomed Ms. Moran.

Assistant Attorney General Mike Tribble provided an update on the Teresa Knudsen matter noting that the scheduling order has been issued and oral argument will be held in Spokane on September 21, 2007.


3.  Other Staff Reports

No other staff reports were given.


F.   Strategic Planning Session

Review of WAC 292-110-010 – Use of State Resources

Susan Harris reported on further research regarding WAC 292-110-010 Use of State Resources. She noted that staff has been receiving a lot of questions from ethics advisors regarding Internet use and whether such use is permissible as long as it follows the de minimis standard outlined in WAC 292-110-010(6). 


Historically, staff advice and prior enforcement actions have found this type of behavior unacceptable. However, when the rule was adopted computers were not as accessible or as common as they are today and with the advancement of technology it is becoming easier to conduct business without having to leave home or office.


Ms. Harris provided written comments from agency ethics advisors as well as the Legislative Ethics Board, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission and King County Board of Ethics.


After discussion, the Board directed staff to continue researching the issue and gather information from advisors and human resource managers and bring examples that may be developed into a rule.


G.  Executive or Closed Session

At 10:50 a.m. the Board moved into Closed Session to discuss potential litigation, deliberate and to receive and evaluate complaints against state employees and officers.  The Board returned to regular session at 11:45 a.m. and broke for lunch.


      Strategic Planning Session (cont.)

Discussion of possible legislation

Ms. Harris discussed the use of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) during enforcement proceedings over the past year, as directed at the Board’s July 14, 2006 retreat. She reported that the Board, its counsel and staff have experience in enforcement matters, and the Board has the experience in order to make good, sound procedural and evidentiary rulings, and reaching sound legal decisions when ruling on enforcement matters. As a result, she believes now is the time for a legislative change to be made. The Board concurred.


Member Gorrell and Susan Harris will meet with representatives of the Attorney General’s Office regarding potential legislation.


Succession planning

The Board and staff discussed the process for recruitment of a new executive director with Susan Harris’ retirement at the end of the year.


Member Golberg will work with Ms. Harris and the Attorney General’s Office recruitment team to develop an announcement and will continue to assist throughout the process.


Partial suspension of penalties in enforcement matters

Susan Harris also discussed partial suspension of penalties when stipulating on enforcement matters. She noted that using a suspended penalty acts as a deterrent for future violations.

The Board concurred as long as the Board has the final authority to approve the stipulation.


Review of and possible modification to Strategic Plan

The Board members and staff revisited the agency’s strategic plan. The planning session focused on progress over the prior year and modifying the goals, objectives, opportunities and challenges.


The Board requested that the plan be divided into both a work plan and a strategic plan. Both plans will be reviewed at the next regular meeting.


Review of Board Members’ Conduct Policies and Procedures

The Board members also reviewed the conduct policies and procedures. Member Usrey requested adding a section relating to any ongoing duties or obligations of members who rotate off the Board.


H.  Public Comment/Board Member Comments

No public comments were expressed.


I.    Miscellaneous Matters/Adjournment

There being no miscellaneous matters, the meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m.


Approved by the Board 9/14/07