Washington State Senate

Olympia Address: PO Box 40428 Olympia, WA 98504-0428 E-mail: Michael.Carrelleleg.wa.gov

Republican Deputy Leader 28th Legislative District March 18, 2011

Senator Mike Carrell

Phone: (360) 786-7654
FAX: (360.) Home Phone:.

.786.-7_81i119i11~ ..

Home E-mail: mcarrellwhotrnail.com

Executive Ethics Board
PO Box 40149

Olympia, WA 98504 0149
w

Re: Complaint Against Department Dear Chairman Connelly and Members:

of Corrections

Employee Belinda Stewart

The purpose of this letter is to initiate an ethics complaint pursuant to Chapter .42.52 RCW, WAC 292-100-010, and WAC 292-100-030 against Ms. Belinda Stewart, an employee of the, Department of Corrections. I believe the Board has jurisdiction over the allegations made in this complaint pursuant to RCW 42.52.360. . I. Identity of State Employee Complained Against To the best of my information and belief, Ms. Stewart's contact information is as follows: Belinda D. Stewart Communications and Outreach Director Department of Corrections 7345 Linderson Way SW P.O. Box 41101 Tumwater, WA 98501 Telephone (360)725-8803 E-Mail: belinda. stewart@doc.wa.gov II. General Statement & Alleged Violations Based upon information and belief, it appears that Ms. Stewart ran or benefitted multiple nonprofit businesses from the Department of Corrections ("DOC") using state time, facilities, employees under her supervision and direction, vehicles, computer systems, printers, vehicles, and other resources. This use was not casual or infrequent; it was not de minimis as that term has come to be used under the Ethics in Public Service Act. While not every particular use of each state resource may amount to a major violation, the pattern of misuse of office and state resources over the period of many years is substantiial, and the totality could easily represent tens of thousands of dollars of misused state taxpayer money (primarily in the form of state time) spent on her personal businesses. That fact that these businesses are generally registered as nonprofits or that they may have laudable social goals is no excuse for expending state resources that were appropriated for DOC use.

Committees:

Health & Long-Term Care

>

Human Services & Corrections

• Iudiciary

«

Rules

Executive Ethics Board Complaint Against Belinda Stewart March 18,2011 Page 2 Moreover, I believe that Ms. Stewart's serving as a supervisor within DOt while also controlling all of these business entities blurred the lines among DOC staff and others in the criminal justice community in precisely the manner which our conflict of interest laws are meant to prevent. Simply put, employees and members of the community should be clear as to when Ms. Stewart was acting as a DOC officer, and when she was acting on behalf of her own businesses. I am not a lawyer, nor am I an expert on the Ethics in Public Service Act. For these reasons, I asked one of our Senate Counsel, who acts as a legislative ethics adviser (regularly advising legislators and staff as to application of ethics law), to review the materials provided to me and render an opinion. Based on this analysis, I respectfully suggest that Ms. Stewart's actions violate the following parts of Chapter 52.52 RCW: 1. Special privileges, RCW 42.52.070. The evidence presented suggests that Ms. Stewart regularly used her position as a Director at DOC to secure special privileges and exemptions for herself and her businesses. . 2. Use of persons, money, or property for private gain, RCW 42.52.160. The evidence presented suggests that Ms. Stewart regularly used state resources for the private gain of herself and her businesses. In particular, it appears that she regularly used state employees under her direction to work on her private businesses. She also regularly used her own state time, DOC facilities, vehicles, computers, and other state resources to benefit herself and her private businesses. 3. Conflict of interest, RCW 42.42.020 --:040. The evidence presented suggests that Ms. Stewart's extensive misuse of state resources on behalf of herself and her private businesses was incompatible 'with her public duties. To the extent that any of her businesses contracted with DOC or received DOC funds, this may also be a violation of the prohibitions on having an interest in state financial transactions.
It is possible that the activity of Ms. Stewart, as outlined in the evidence presented, may violate

I I ! i
I
I

I.

r
I

I

).
I

I

I I
i

I

I· I
[
. f·'·

I

I: I·
i:

i;
I

I.

!:

H

other Ethics in Public Service Act provisions, WACs, DOC policies, or precedent adopted by the Board. III. Sources of Information
& Evidence

I have no firsthand knowledge of any of these allegations. I have, where appropriate and possible, tried to confirm certain identities or publicly-available bits of information. All of the information on which I base this complaint was provided to me in my capacity as a member of the Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections, which necessarily has oversight authority over the Department of Corrections. In adldition to the materials furnished with this complaint, I can put you in contact with the citizens who frrstbrought this matter to my attention and provided what I believe to be significant evidence of systematic Ethics in Public Service Act violations over the past several years. These citizens have firsthand knowledge of the facts which support this complaint, and they are willing to testify and provide evidence to the 'Board, directly. They came to me because they were uncertain as to how best to go about ensuring that this information reach proper authorities, and I viewed it as incumbent upon me, as an elected

the

I
Executive Page 3 Ethics Board Complaint Against Belinda Stewart

I
March 18,2011 official, to make this complaint on their behalf. They are understandably nervous as to possible
negative repercussions that might result from disclosing their identities (including possible retaliation), but they are willing to give up anonymity and testify openly as to these matters should this, in the Board's judgment, prove necessary. In my opinion (after meeting with them), they are credible witnesses and the documents they provided seem genuine. The following table summarizes the documents provided to me by these citizens, which are organized under tabs as attachments to this complaint:

I I

I

i

I
2
I

3

appointments ation to Ms. Stewart's private business work occur on state time, with state resources. Shows Ms. Stewart's use of state time, employees under her direction, facilities, vehicles, and other resources to work on her' businesses. .
Nll''YIPT'W'C

I

I

I

II.

II.

.

appointments

to

5

6

Summary a.DOC on Ms. Stewart's private businesses, followed by a May 2008 - September 2010 calendar . all work. 13, II and February 10,2011 showing the use of state employees, time, and resources to solicit donations on behalf of one of Ms. Stewart's non-profit businesses.

Ms ..Stewart's non-profit work occur on state time, with state resources. Shows Ms. Stewart's use of state time, employees under her direction; facilities, vehicles, and other resources to work .on her private businesses. state on Stewart's non-profit businesses at Ms. Stewart's direction Ias a supervisor of this DOC employee). These e-rna to one of Ms. Stewart's businesses using the DOC e-mail system (it appears these e-mails were sent system-wide, within Ms. Stewart's work group). Ms. Stewart apparently used an administrative assistant employed by DOC to make this solicitation. These are representative of the sorts of solicitations Ms. Stewart made. . not over In Service Act, these are internal DOC policies that Ms. Stewart's conduct also violated. In particular, it is worth noting that Ms. Stewart has apparently and recently (March 4, 2011) worked to change these internal policies to presumably allow her to perform some work on non-profits. The timing is especially interesting, as it seems to coincide with complaints . made Ms. Stewart.

I

7

DOC policies 800.010 (old 290.400, and 800.020.

Each bit of evidence is discussed

in more detail in the following section of this complaint.

Executive

Ethics Board Complaint

Against Belinda Stewart

March 18,2011 Page 4·

IV. Review of Evidence Presented Ms. Belinda Stewart is the Communications and Outreach Director for the Department of Corrections. Her office is based at DOC agency headquarters in Tumwater. As a Director, Ms. Stewart is a very senior member of DOC's staff. A review of DOC's organizational chart (Tab 1) shows her name and position as being specifically listed only a couple of levels below the .. director of DOC. In this position, she supervises seve:ral staff directly within her office and can direct many more staff at DOC as needed. Ms. Stewart also has created, governs, controls, or is involved with at least seven different businesses active in Washington, licensed with the Department of Licensing, and registered with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State (Tab 2). These businesses are:
1. NAWCJ, "National Association of Women in Criminal Justice", where she is listed as the President and Registered Agent of this non-profit corporation and uses her DOC address;

2. NARCJ, "Washington State Chapter ofthe National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice", where she was listed as the Treasurer and Registered Agent of this non-profit corporation and used her DOC address. It now appears that she is no
longer an officer or agent of this corporation, but she was during the relevant times

complained of herein; 3. HEART, "Headquarters Employee Appreciation and Recognition Team (H.E.A.R.T)", where she is listed as the President and Registered Agent of this nonprofit corporation and uses her DOC address;'
4. FBRC, "Faith Based Reentry Coalition of Washington State", where she is listed as

the Secretary of this non-profit corporation and uses her DOC address. Her DOC address is also the "Special Address" listed for this corporation; and 5.ERC,·"Employee Recognition Committee", where she is listed as the Presidentof this non-profit corporation and uses her DOC address, Her DOC address is also used for the Registered Agent for this corporation; 6. EPP, "Extreme Praise Productions", where she is listed as the Vice President of this non-profit corporation; and

7. MSHF, "Michael Shawn Hines Foundation", where she is listed as the Vice President of this non-profit corporation. I list each of these entities because they were listed iin documents provided to me; itis not . necessarily the case that inappropriate activity took place with each and everyone of these businesses. My staff's review of the evidence provided clearly shows misuse of materials for

Executive Ethics Board Complaint Against Belinda Stewart March 18,2011 Page 5 NA WCJ, HEART, NABCJ, FBRC, and ERC (Tabs 3-6), Specifically, the records provided show the following:
1. At least 593 hours of state DOC employee time were misused, at Ms. Stewart's

direction, to support her private businesses. The summary behind Tab 5 includes a table of the work performed by a DOC graphics technician from May 2008 Septembercf Zul O, A calendar detailing all of the employee's projects for this time
period is also provided. It is worth noting that this may be incomplete (that is, there

may have been other work performed for Ms. Stewart that has been missed and therefore not listed). It is also worth noting that this is the work of only' one employee; Ms. Stewart directed the work of other state employees in support of her business entities. Testimony of DOC employees is expected to show considerably more use of state employee time and work on Ms. Stewart's private businesses. 2. Many hours of her own state time were used by Ms. Stewart in support of her private businesses. The summary behind Tab 4, and the calendar behind Tab 3, clearly show multiple instances in which Ms. Stewart made appointments during the normal course of DOC business hours in connection with her private businesses. Itis worth noting that this summary may be incomplete, and, in any case, only covers a two-year period (January 2009 - December 2010). 3. Many incidental resources-such as state facilities, vehicles, and equipmentwere used by Ms. Stewart in support of her private businesses. The summary behind Tab 4, and the calendar behind 'Tab 3, clearly show multiple instances in which Ms. Stewart made extensive use of state facilities, vehicles, and equipment for private business purposes. She regularly used her own office facilities at D9C . headquarters to host meetings. On many occasions, she used state vehicles to travel to meetings of her private businesses. Computers were used both to e-mail information, calendar events; and create materials for these private businesses. On some occasions, it appears that state paper and production materials were used to create materials for these private businesses. Again, it is worth noting that this summary may be incomplete, and, in any case, only covers a two-year period (January 2009 - December 2010). 4. Ms. Stewart regularly engaged in fundraising activities for her private businesses using state resources. The e-mails behind Tab 6 are representative of the .types of solicitations regularly sent out, on state computer networks with the use of state computers, to solicit money for HEART and possibly other private businesses with which Ms. Stewart was involved: 5. Ms. Stewart regularly blurred the lines between her duties as a Director at DOC and her role in her various businesses. The summary behind Tab 4, and the calendar behind Tab 3; clearly show multiple instances in which Ms. Stewart mixed her official duties as a Director for DOC with her role in her various businesses.

,I
I.

IL
Executive Ethics Board Complaint Against Belinda Stewart .March 18,2011 Page 6 Resources seem regularly to have moved between state and private use without regard as to the source and whether such use was appropriate. Altogether, these activities show, in my opinion, a reckless disregard for the trust the public has placed in Ms. Stewart as a Director for DOC. There: seems to be no regard for the Ethics in Public Service Act or good stewardship of taxpayer funds. I am particularly disturbed by the changes to DOC policies in this regard (behind Tab 7), which seem to show a concerted effort by . Ms. Stewart to "grandfather in" her private business activities to try to make them appropriate within DOC policies, many years after much of the unethical behavior took place. I am . uncertain as to the present state of these policies, but I would note that=-with the exception of the attempts to specifically exempt certain of her businesses years after the fact-I believe Ms. Stewart's conduct violates even the adopted policies: and standards of DOC. In any case, I believe Ms. Stewart's actions violated the adopted policies of DOC in force during all relevant times. DOC Policy 800.010, titled, "Ethics," read--until it was curiously changed on March 4th of this year-in pertinentpart as follows: Use of State Resources
A. Staff will not use state resources for personal benefit or to benefit another,
i

!

i
i

I Ii I

Ii"

I

I
1


i:

!:
I"

I
i
I I,

I'
I'

I· I I ,
1.

i

I

except as required for official duties or as authorized by policy. C. With prior supervisory approval, staff may make occasional but limited use of state resources to support charities, promoteorganizational effectiveness, or enhance job related skills, if the: 1. Use has little or no cost to the state, 2. Use is brief in duration, occurs infrequently, and is the most effective use of time and resources, 3. Use does not interfere with the performance of official duties, 4. Volume or frequency of use does not disrupt or distract from the conduct of state business, and 5. Use does not compromise the security or integrity of state property, information, or software .

I'

I

Ii
!

.

D. State resources will not be used for: 1. Conducting an outside business, private employment, or other activities conducted for private fmancial gain, 2. Supporting, promoting, or soliciting for an outside organization or group, unless authorized by law or in accordance with DOC 290.400 Fund-raising to support charities. Clearly, the pattern shown by Ms. Stewart's misuse of state resources is a violation of this policy. Certainly, it is not de minimis-e- it was not "occasional but limited," it did not "occur infrequently," it often resulted in significant cost to the state, and it could disrupt state business. It is a blatant use of state resources to support outside businesses and solicit funds in direct

Executive Ethics Board Complaint Against Belinda Stewart March 18,2011 Page 7 violation of DOC's own policies at the time: I similarly beiieve that Ms. Stewart's activities violate the "Conflict ofInterest" provisions found within this same DOC policy (Tab 7). It seems that DOC's internal policies merely mirror the standards found in the Ethics in Public Service Act. Moreover, to the extent that they conflict, I believe Chapter 42.52 RCW would clearly control over any internal DOC policy. In any case, I believe that Ms. Stewart's actions violated both internal DOC policies' and the Ethics in Public Service Act. And again, whatever the noble goals of any of the non-profits involved, I do not believe this excuses the vast amount of state resources expended on their behalf. Finally, there is some evidence within the materials provided as to possible misuse or misappropriation offunds (see, for example, the final paragraphs of the summary at Tab 4). I believe this evidence to be incomplete and, in any case, not the specific subject of my complaint: It may be that this becomes a subject of interest you will wish to investigate after reviewing these materials or speaking to witnesses. I am uncertain as to who the appropriate authority might be to look into allegations of misuse of non-profit or state funds, but they are also quite serious.

v. Conclusion
For the reasons previously indicated, l file this complaint against Ms. Belinda Stewart and respectfully ask the Executive Ethics Board to vigorously investigate the allegations herein. In may provide any additional information, put you in contact with potential witnesses, or be of any further service .on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Enclosures

I
I

I

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful