Lawmaker fired from CWU after misconduct investigation

The political science professor at the school since 2003 can appeal the decision.

By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Republican Rep. Matt Manweller was fired by Central Washington University Tuesday following the completion of an outside investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct.

The university released a statement saying it has provided written notice of his termination, effective immediately, from his faculty position as a political science professor. Manweller, who has taught at the school since 2003, said he believes the faculty union will appeal the decision. Emails to the union were not immediately returned Tuesday.

University officials said the investigative report won’t be publicly available until later this month, but said Manweller could authorize its release earlier. In a text message Tuesday, Manweller said the action came “as no surprise” and he’ll be suing both the university and the investigator in the coming days. He said he has not yet decided whether to authorize the early release of the report, or to seek an injunction to block it.

Manweller has been on paid leave from the school since December. That same month he was removed by House Republican leadership from his ranking member position on a House committee, and resigned his position as assistant floor leader. He has denied wrongdoing and issued a video earlier this month accusing the university of manufacturing allegations. He says the investigation is politically motivated. He’s up for re-election, and received more than 63 percent of the vote in last week’s primary. He advanced to the November ballot along with Democrat Sylvia Hammond.

He also noted the strong support he received in the recent election, calling it “an overwhelming landslide.”

“It is never easy to stand up to a bully but I’m glad the voters in the 13th district are supporting my efforts,” he wrote.

Manweller has been the subject of new reports related to 2012 and 2013 investigations by the school into allegations of sexual harassment. He’s denied those allegations, along with other recent allegations by women who have told the Legislature that interactions with him made them uncomfortable.

The university never determined the previous allegations against Manweller to be substantiated, though school officials formally reprimanded him at least once, saying he had problems maintaining boundaries with students. Investigators also concluded in the 2013 report that there was evidence Manweller broke CWU’s sexual harassment rules. He was placed on leave in December because of the new investigation into the allegations of inappropriate conduct.

The most recent investigation was completed last month by Trish Murphy, of Northwest Workplace Law. Earlier this month, Manweller provided to reporters affidavits from two students, including one who wrote that Murphy “put words in her mouth” and she felt she was “being pressured into saying things that were not true.” Manweller said an additional student is set to sign an affidavit as well. Murphy declined to comment Tuesday, but in its statement, the university wrote that it stands by her “comprehensive investigative report and is confident that the report will withstand public scrutiny.”

“The University deeply regrets that Dr. Manweller has chosen to make public statements minimizing, trivializing, even ridiculing, the female students who have come forward with legitimate concerns,” the university’s statement reads. “The University trusts that the investigation report — and the University’s response — will fully address and validate the concerns of our students, and we thank them for their courage in coming forward.”

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