Senator repays some expenses after questions arise

OLYMPIA — Sen. Pam Roach has paid back some expenses she charged to the state for phone purchases and some mileage, and has promised to give up her Senate-paid phone and mailbox, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported Friday.

Earlier this week, Roach paid state Senate administrators about $680, the paper wrote.

The newspaper says that Roach might end up refunding the state thousands of dollars once questions of mileage are settled. Roach’s expenses have come under scrutiny in the midst of her re-election campaign.

“I’m doing what I can to make sure there are no questions whatsoever,” Roach said. “If it means I’m going to be paying back a couple thousand dollars … I’m just going to do that.”

So far, Roach has repaid $118 for renting a mailbox, $378.75 for purchasing the phones and $183.12 for a February trip to Salem, Oregon, for which mileage was inflated through an apparent clerical error.

The Republican senator from Auburn also charged thousands of dollars in cellphone bills to the state, but Senate officials say the Senate operates on the honor system and it’s up to Roach to characterize how much of the bill is for legislative business. Roach says that from now on, she won’t charge the state for her phone use.

Still in question is money Roach was paid for mileage reimbursement she receives each time she drives the 22-mile round trip from her rural home to the Auburn post office. She has recorded more than 300 trips over the past three years alone.

Allies of Enumclaw Rep. Cathy Dahlquist have raised the expenses as an issue in primary race between the two Republicans. A third candidate, running as a Democrat, is also in the primary race. Roach has said that the Senate should have told her if her expenses were not allowed.

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