Given his power as a lawmaker, Sawyer said mixing politics and dating is a “tricky space to operate,” and one he acknowledges can lead to “miscommunications.” In recent weeks, eight women interviewed by The News Tribune, The Olympian and public radio’s Northwest News Network have said Sawyer has crossed personal and professional boundaries, sometimes repeatedly, and accused him of engaging in behavior before and after he joined the Legislature that ranged from inappropriate to harassing.
That included allegations of persistent or suggestive electronic messaging, unwanted attention and comments with sexual overtones.
All of the women said they were speaking out now either because of the national conversation about sexual harassment or because they realized they weren’t alone in having experiences with Sawyer.
First elected in 2012, Sawyer chairs the state House’s Commerce and Gaming Committee and has been key in crafting legislation related to Washington’s lucrative legal marijuana system.
In the end, Jinkins and Sawyer did not co-locate offices.
Sawyer said he pursued a friendship with Gavre since she was politically connected and he was considering a run for office.
He said she even came to his apartment and went swimming in the summer of 2017.
Sawyer said there were times when he believes there was mutual “flirtatious behavior.” He also said he explored “the possibility” that they could be “more than friends.” The woman said she did go to his apartment to swim, in part because she “thought he was getting better.” “I have often forgiven him because I second guess myself,” she said.
But in 2011, the year before he first ran for office, Gavre said Sawyer began sending her personal text and Facebook messages roughly once a week.“He says I’m good-looking, beautiful, gorgeous,” she said.“I consider it harassment.” The lobbyist said because of their age difference and Sawyer’s position, she was wary of confronting him or complaining to House officials.“I often respond to him, but I’m not trying to engage him,” she said.“Usually, I’m trying to make it stop.” The woman allowed the news outlets to review some of the text messages, which began around 2011 and stopped in 2017.Sawyer said he was “flabbergasted” at the accusation.He described his relationship with the lobbyist as a long-term friendship that blossomed years before the two got to the Legislature.Four of her friends told The News Tribune, The Olympian and Northwest News Network that she had expressed angst about unwanted attention from Sawyer for years.“If he were anyone else, I would have been much more direct,” she said.One woman who spoke on the record about an experience with Sawyer was Jessica Gavre, who served as the legislative assistant for Democratic state Rep.Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma from roughly 2010 until 2013.