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Washington Lt. Governor Agrees To $15K Ethics Fine

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
FILE - Lt. Gov. Brad Owen bangs the gavel as he conducts business in the Senate chamber on the first day of the 2014 session of the Washington state Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington.

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen has agreed to a $15,000 ethics fine. The settlement announced Friday stems from the five-term Democrat’s use of state resources to operate a nonprofit with his wife.

The ethics investigation concluded that Owen used his office and staff to help run Strategies for Youth, a nonprofit that went around to schools, performing concerts with an anti-bullying message.

On occasion, Owen’s staff helped schedule and set up these concerts. Owen also hired one of the musicians as his administrative assistant. When Strategies for Youth dissolved in 2011, Owen’s wife, Linda, inherited the nonprofit’s assets.

“There is certainly an aggravating factor present here which is that Lt. Governor Owen is an elected official,’ said Chad Standifer, a lawyer with the Executive Ethics Board. “But there is also a mitigating factor present, which is that the Lt. Gov. Owen’s goal was a positive one — to educate kids through these programs.”

In a statement, Owen said he agreed to the settlement to “put an end to a frustrating process.” He vowed to “continue with vigor” his efforts on behalf of Washington children.

Five-thousand dollars of the fine will be suspended if Owen has no further ethics violations over the next two years.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.