OLYMPIA — State Rep. Jesse Young, 26th Legislative District Republican, has been ordered to pay $1,500 for combining campaign work with state staffing and resources while conducting four town hall meetings in the district this year.
Young — who also ran afoul of state ethics regulations in October 2017 — was also docked $500 by the state Legislative Ethics Board since this latest conclusion is his second ethics violation in less than a year. The board announced the decision June 25.
The legislative ethics board fined Young $1,000 last year for inappropriately campaigning while clocking time as a state legislator. In addition, he was reprimanded for enlisting the help of his state legislative assistant while campaigning.
In the latest decision, the ethics board said it found that Young had directly used campaign staff during some of the town hall meetings. It also found those staff members shared both official state informational and campaign materials to district members at the meetings.
In its ethics statement, the board also said the state representative from Gig Harbor included the state seal on a personal logo he created using his own resources. Although the board said Young didn’t violate state regulations by using his personal logo on state material, he was determined to have blurred the distinction between official state and private campaign material.
Young told The News Tribune in Tacoma that the ethics board’s findings were in error. “Everything [at the town hall meetings] was done by the book,” he told the newspaper.
The elected official said no campaign staff members were at the meetings. His mother, whom he said was filling in since he has been barred from using legislative assistants following an accusation in 2016 of intimidation and hostility toward staffers, accidentally handed out campaign fliers at the town halls, Young explained. The legislator has previously denied the staff harassment claims.
Young said the ethics board didn’t consider video evidence from the town hall meetings, which he said showed that constituents were informed that the meetings were to meant discuss legislative issues, not campaign concerns.