An ethics complaint lodged against Aberdeen Republican Rep. Jim Walsh by the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance has been dismissed by the Legislative Ethics Board, which found a “lack of reasonable cause” this month.
The complaint alleged that Walsh “made several offensively inappropriate comments, unbecoming of an elected official representing Washington state, toward multiple Black and people of color who gave public testimony.”
In their official opinion, the board held that questions or comments to people publicly testifying cannot be called harassment, “even if the questions are offensive, insensitive, rude or awkward. Even though the actions in this complaint may not violate the (Ethics in Public Service Act), they may nevertheless constitute a violation of the Legislative Code of Conduct.”
In a news release, Walsh said the board’s ruling “makes sense,” and that the legislative process has “no place in it for thin-skinned partisanship or phony victimology.”
“As I've noted from the start, this poorly drafted complaint is nothing more than a political stunt," he said. "I'm just sorry the board's members and staff had to waste their time on this, when they could have been considering more serious matters."
The order of dismissal includes Walsh’s comments and questions at hand. It also includes an email to members of the public from Bainbridge Island Democrat Rep. Drew Hansen, who apologized for Walsh’s behavior during public testimony, saying “we expect a civil, respectful Committee, which was clearly not the experience this morning.”
The Tri-City Herald reported this week that Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, was also cleared of the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance’s ethics complaint against him.