Pierce County lawmaker responds to investigation into conduct at Legislature

Following the release of an investigation last week into her conduct at the state Legislature, Pierce County Rep. Melanie Morgan responded to the allegations in a news release sent out Friday afternoon.

The investigation into Morgan, D-Parkland, was launched after her former legislative assistant expressed concerns about the work environment earlier this year, claiming that they were yelled at, mistreated and made to feel “isolated” after Morgan told them to “trust no one” at the Legislature.

House of Representatives Chief Clerk Bernard Dean, who released the report to news outlets, told McClatchy in an email that pending the outcome of the investigation, he has removed Morgan’s legislative assistant, suspended administrative support from the House Democratic Caucus, and restricted access to communications staff.

“I will be working with the Executive Rules Committee over the next several days to determine the appropriate response to the findings outlined in the investigative report,” Dean said.

According to the news release from Morgan, “the report primarily addresses communication challenges” and gives context to conversations with the staffer as well as other legislative staff members during the short session earlier this year.

Morgan said in the release that serving people in Washington is her “highest honor” and that she is “committed to fostering a positive and respectful work environment” for staff and colleagues.

“The recent report highlights the high-stress nature of our legislative environment and underscores the importance of continuous improvement and mutual understanding,” Morgan said.

The release also acknowledged Morgan’s direct communication style, but added that the “straightforward approach ensures clarity and efficiency in a fast-paced legislative environment.”

Morgan also said in the release that she has “consistently sought to provide guidance and support to her staff.”

The investigation into Morgan’s conduct also noted that the former assistant, who is a person of mixed race, found Morgan’s focus on their race unwelcome. Morgan allegedly called the assistant “Starboy” and said the only reason their colleagues accepted them was because of their “proximity to whiteness.”

Morgan’s news release notes that she is a “staunch advocate for dismantling racism” and that her conversations “about race and equity are part of her broader mission to promote social justice.”

“Her efforts to empower staff members to embrace their identities align with her legislative priorities,” the release said.

This is the second time Morgan’s conduct has come into question at the Legislature. An investigation in 2022 found her to have engaged in abusive and bullying conduct.