Lobbyist barred from WA Capitol after ruling he stalked representative

State Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, obtained a domestic violence protective order against longtime lobbyist Cody Arledge.

Lobbyist Cody Arledge (Public Disclosure Commission)

Lobbyist Cody Arledge (Public Disclosure Commission)

By Jim Brunner / The Seattle Times

OLYMPIA — As the Washington Legislature returns to an in-person session for the first time in two years, the usual flock of lobbyists is back, too, pressing lawmakers to pass, kill or amend bills on behalf of their clients.

But one prominent lobbyist is barred from the Capitol campus after a judge ruled he had stalked a state representative, leading her to flee her home for months.

State Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, last year obtained a domestic violence protective order against longtime lobbyist Cody Arledge, citing what she said was an escalating pattern of obsessive and threatening behavior after she broke off their romantic relationship in mid-2021.

“I feel terrorized by this man. I have broken down crying multiple times per day,” Davis wrote in a court declaration, adding she’d been unable to sleep, experienced “acute anxiety, including shaking and trembling …” and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Arledge in court papers denied he represents a danger to Davis, and accused her of retaliating against his lobbying practice — allegations Davis rejects as false and defamatory.

Their dispute — laid bare in hundreds of pages of court filings over the past two years — is now before the state Court of Appeals, where Arledge is challenging the restrictions on him as an “Orwellian” violation of his constitutional right to privacy and ability to work. Davis’ attorneys are defending the restrictions as necessary to protect her.

In imposing the restrictions on Arledge last May, a King County Superior Court judge said Davis’ fears were “more than reasonable under the circumstances” and she “should be entitled to have absolute security.”

Under the terms of the five-year protective order, Arledge cannot go within 1,000 feet of Davis’ home or her workplace, defined as the state Capitol and adjacent John L. O’Brien Building that houses state representatives’ offices. (Exceptions can be made if Davis is not at the Capitol.) He is required to wear an ankle bracelet with GPS monitoring for at least one year that alerts authorities and Davis via a phone app if he violates those conditions.

The situation is unusual if not unprecedented at the Capitol, where lobbyists and lawmakers mingle during the legislative session in a shared work space of hallways and hearing rooms.

While not commenting on the Davis matter, state House Chief Clerk Bernard Dean said it’s not unheard of for legislators to obtain protective orders barring people from showing up at their offices. But those have usually involved members of the public getting overheated about a political issue.

“It’s infrequent, but at times we have had protection orders where we have had individuals harassing our members,” Dean said.

Davis declined to comment for this story, citing safety concerns and the ongoing legal appeal. Arledge also declined to comment, on advice from his attorney, but pointed in a text message to a legal brief filed last week in his appeal.

In that Jan. 23 filing, the attorney, David Donnan, argued the electronic monitoring of Arledge “constitutes an unreasonable trespass and invasion of his right to privacy guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions.”

Donnan noted there had been no allegations of physical violence or explicit threats of violence by his client.

“I have never intentionally or repeatedly harassed the petitioner, intended to frighten or intimidate her, and I have never committed any act that would cause her to believe I intended to injure her,” Arledge wrote in a December 2021 declaration.

Arledge was arrested in July by the Washington State Patrol after he twice triggered his monitoring system by driving on a road adjacent to the Capitol campus. Davis, who was not at the Capitol, reported him to authorities after being alerted on her phone app. Arledge now faces two counts of violating the protective order in Thurston County District Court.

Davis, 36, was elected to the Legislature in 2018. She is also strategy director of the Washington Recovery Alliance, a nonprofit she helped found in 2014. She previously worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and championed the passage of “Ricky’s Law,” signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2016, which created an involuntary crisis commitment system for people with life-threatening addictions. The law was named after her friend, Ricky Garcia, whom she cared for while he struggled with a nearly fatal alcohol and drug addiction.

Arledge, 59, is a former firefighter who has been a registered lobbyist since 1990. His firm, The Arledge Group, made nearly $1.2 million in fees over the past two years, placing it among the upper tier of lobbying firms in the state, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings. His firm’s clients over that period included the city of Seattle, the Samish Indian Nation, the state’s film industry, and unions representing transit and sheet metal workers. Arledge also previously represented the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the gun control advocacy group.

He has donated more than $50,000 over the past decade to Democratic politicians, including Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Lt. Gov. Denny Heck.


Davis and Arledge had met when she was running for office, and bonded over a shared interest in drug and alcohol recovery policy, eventually becoming involved in an on-again, off-again relationship between 2019 and 2021.

Davis said in court papers that she broke up with Arledge for good in June 2021, telling him she wanted no more contact. But he continued to reach out, contacting her 17 times using new email addresses and disguised phone numbers, and also contacting her friends, efforts that Davis documented in her protective-order filings.

In a court declaration, Davis said Arledge’s “stalking behavior” grew increasingly frightening as he accused her of unfairly inflicting emotional pain on him. She said Arledge knew of her experience of domestic abuse in a previous relationship and “specifically and strategically used threats of suicide and threats against my career, which he knew had worked for my previous abuser, in order to intimidate, scare, and control me.”

Arledge’s messages had been directed to her personal email and phone. That changed on Nov. 1, 2021, when he emailed a “demand letter” to Davis’ legislative office, warning her “to stop retaliating against me, my co-workers, my firm and our clients for the ending of our romantic relationship.”

Arledge claimed she had blocked his firm from an interview with a prospective client and changed her position on legislation she’d previously supported to retaliate against him.

Davis rebutted those allegations, providing copies of texts, emails and calendar entries in court filings as evidence she had not retaliated or changed her position on the legislation. (Arledge did not offer similar documentation to support his claims in court filings.)

Davis saw Arledge’s letter as a major escalation, “subjecting my reputation to a baseless misconduct allegation that (he) hoped would serve as effective coercion.”

She left her home after receiving the letter, staying in multiple “safe houses” on the advice of a domestic-violence advocate, and distributed Arledge’s photo and vehicle description to neighbors.

That same month, she sought and received a temporary emergency protective order in King County Superior Court. Tumwater police served Arledge with the order at his home, confiscating 17 firearms and his concealed-carry permit. Most of the weapons were in a gun safe, though two Glock pistols were found on his refrigerator and bookshelf.

In the early 2000s, Arledge lost his gun rights after convictions for violating a domestic violence protective order, drug possession and criminal trespass. He successfully petitioned to have his rights restored in 2012, according to Thurston County court records.

Arledge and his attorneys expressed surprise at Davis’ reaction to the “demand letter,” saying it could not be regarded as a domestic violence threat and was constitutionally protected free speech.

“This request, directed to Davis’s legislative email address was a petition to a government officer, protected since the days of the Magna Carta, and as such cannot serve as a basis for the punitive imposition of the order that was subsequently issued,” Donnan wrote in an August court filing.

In March 2022, a King County court commissioner rejected Davis’ request for a full protection order, ruling she hadn’t proven Arledge intended to threaten her. After the order was denied, Arledge contacted Tumwater police, seeking to get his guns back. Davis obtained a temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order stopping that from happening.

Davis appealed the commissioner’s ruling. In May 2022, King County Superior Judge Pro Tempore Leonid Ponomarchuk agreed with Davis’ attorneys, ruling that her fears that Arledge might harm her were reasonable. He cited a suicide attempt by Arledge a few months earlier as evidence of volatility.

Ponomarchuk rejected Arledge’s arguments that he had a constitutional right to contact Davis in the course of lobbying.

“Does a constituent have a right to address a legislator? Absolutely. Does a constituent who had a former relationship — intimate relationship with the legislator get to contact her, discuss personal issues under the aegis of official business? This court finds you do not. You have forfeited that right,” Ponomarchuk said.

Arledge appealed that decision and his case is now before the state Court of Appeals, with no set date for a decision.

Arledge, in a declaration, said his lobbying style “is based on personal contact” with elected officials, staff and state agency directors he’d developed relationships with over the past 25 years, and predicted a ban from the Capitol “would be devastating to my business.”

But Davis’ attorneys countered that her right to be assured of personal safety outweighs Arledge’s objections.

“This case is not about access to government. That is pretextual. This case is about access to her,” attorneys Jennifer Anderson and Yvonne Chin wrote in a Dec. 23 appellate brief.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

Breadson John, 8, was found safe in Missouri on Wednesday, Feb. 21, after going missing from Vancouver in June 2022. (FBI)
Vancouver boy, 8, missing since June, found in Missouri

Breadson John was found safe in Jasper County Missouri after being missing for 8 months.

In this image provided by John Odegard, firefighters in Seattle douse flames at a marina on Lake Union, near the city's University District, early on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. The fire burned 30 boats on a dry-rack storage facility, and a man found hiding in one vessel was arrested for investigation of arson, authorities said. (John Odegard via AP)
Fire at Seattle marina burns 30 boats on dry rack storage

A man found hiding in one vessel was arrested for investigation of arson, authorities said.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Deputy shot, wounded in Seattle during eviction, 1 dead

A King County Sheriff’s deputy was shot Monday and a person inside the residence was later found dead.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Washington state.
Man pleads guilty to stalking Washington state lawmaker

Isaiah Long, 34, of Bremerton, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony stalking Rep. Michelle Caldier.

Amtrak restores full daily train service to Vancouver, B.C.

Amtrak has restarted direct trips between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Leonard Cobb, co-founder of state’s first Medic One, dies at 96

An incident more than 60 years ago helped prompt creation of the groundbreaking emergency medical service.

A Value Village store is seen Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Edmonds, Wash. The company that operates 300 Value Village, Savers and other thrift stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia is suing Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, saying his office has violated its rights by demanding $3.2 million to settle a three-year investigation. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Court rejects deception charges against Savers Value Village

The Washington state Supreme Court handed the thrift store chain Savers Value Village a unanimous win Thursday.

Seattle Council Member Kshama Sawant speaks to supporters and opponents of a proposed ordinance to add caste to Seattle's anti-discrimination laws at a rally at Seattle City Hall, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Seattle. Sawant proposed the ordinance. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Seattle becomes first U.S. city to ban caste discrimination

The Seattle City Council on Tuesday added caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws, becoming the first city to pass such a law outside South Asia.

Clay Siegall, cofounder and former CEO of Seagen. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
Why prosecutors say former Seagen CEO wasn’t charged after arrest

Edmonds prosecutors said there were contradictory statements on the night Seagen ex-CEO Clay Siegall was accused of domestic violence.

New Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks during an inauguration ceremony for city officials on Jan. 6, 2014, in Seattle. One of Sawant’s earliest memories of the caste system was hearing her grandfather – a man she “otherwise loved very much” – utter a slur to summon their lower-caste maid. Now an elected official in a city thousands of miles from India, she has proposed an ordinance to add caste to Seattle’s anti-discrimination laws. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson, File)
Seattle considers historic law barring caste discrimination

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant wants to add caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
Judge rejects bid to nullify Boeing deal over Max crashes

District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth said federal law doesn’t give courts the power to oversee agreements that prosecutors make with defendants.

FILE - The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Boeing is reporting a money-losing quarter as both its civilian-airplane division and the defense business are struggling. Boeing said Wednesday, April 27, 2022,  that it lost $1.24 billion in the first quarter and took large write-downs for several programs.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 finance and HR jobs in 2023

Boeing plans to outsource about a third of the eliminated positions to Tata Consulting Services in Bengaluru, India.