Rep. Young reprimanded by state House counsel

26th District legislator accused of ‘hostile behavior’ with assistants

By BOB SMITH

Kitsap News Group

OLYMPIA — Rep. Jesse Young, 26th Legislative District Republican, has been accused in a letter by state House Counsel Alison Hellberg of abusive and intimidating behavior while working with his legislative assistants.

As a result of those accusations, Young’s interaction with his assistants has been restricted to “very limited direct contact,” according to a Dec. 13 letter sent to Young by Hellberg. Contents of the communication were first reported by Rachel La Corte of the Associated Press in Olympia.

Young’s office has not responded to requests from the Port Orchard Independent for comment. The state representative did, however, post a lengthy, impassioned rebuttal Jan. 30 on his Facebook page. He called the accusations politically motivated and leaked to the news media to hurt him politically.

“The House decided to unilaterally deprive me of my due process rights and what’s more, has refused for months to formally provide me with the exact allegations (and the details therein) made against me,” Young wrote.

“Furthermore, they’ve told me that a claim was made, it’s generally ‘x,’ ‘y,’ and ‘z,’ (and) they won’t share any details … they choose to believe the person making the claims, and they’re going to punish me.”

Young wrote that he did not accept earlier, informal offers to resolve the issue, and attributed the media leak as retribution for not agreeing to the offered terms.

“It’s not surprising if you think about it,” he wrote.

“I’ve had more money spent against me over the past two years than any other representative over that time frame. I’ve been a political target since I was appointed (to the seat).”

When asked for comment by the Independent, Hellberg replied that “the House does not comment on personnel matters and we do not have any responsive records to your request.”

She said state statutes on privacy prevent her from providing comment.

The House attorney wrote in the letter that Young had displayed a “pattern of hostile and intimidating behavior” during the 26th District representative’s interactions with his assistants.

Many of those incidents reportedly took place at Young’s district office outside the state capital in Olympia.

Hellberg wrote that Young is to have no supervisory role over his replacement legislative assistant, who will instead report directly to the House Republican Caucus management.

The letter doesn’t specify incidents or behaviors of which Young is accused, nor does it name staff members who reported the alleged incidents.

Hellberg wrote that House administrators will consider removing the restrictions if Young undergoes and completes a number of situational management programs, including those that address anger management, management training and respectful workplace training.

According to Hellberg’s letter, ethical concerns also were raised during the course of the mistreatment investigation. She wrote that those issues are under review.

A spokeswoman from the House Republican public information office has not responded to a request for comment.

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