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November 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon "furious" about state investigation

The Washington State Patrol is conducting a criminal investigation into whether Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon misused public funds for travel.

Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins confirmed the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s office asked the state patrol to investigate on Oct. 26.

Reardon, a Democrat seeking a third term, is in a tough re-election fight with state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens.

The Democratic chairman of the Snohomish County Council, Dave Somers, said he got information from someone he didn’t know, and passed allegations on to the prosecutor about three weeks ago.

“I thought the information was substantial enough, and it does involve, you know, wrongdoing and I thought it was the appropriate thing to do,” Somers said. He said he worried that if the acts turned out to be illegal and he knew about them, he could “be part of the problem.”

The investigation is not likely to be finished before the Nov. 8 election, Calkins said. Many ballots in the all-mail election have already been cast.

Reardon said he doesn’t know what the allegations are about, but he hasn’t done anything improper. He said he has no doubt Hope is behind the allegations.

“I’m furious that we have someone who’s decided to file an allegation four days before an election,” Reardon said. “I do not know who filed it, but the timing is very curious. The fact that the state patrol won’t have time to conclude their investigation before the election is outrageous.”

During the campaign, Hope has raised questions about Reardon’s travel expenses. Calkins would not say whether the investigation was related to travel funds.

Hope said Thursday he didn’t have anything to do with the allegations. If he had been behind it for political gain, he said, he would have done it a couple weeks ago.

“The reality is it’s just an allegation,” he said. “I hope it’s not true.”

Somers said the person who gave him the information was not affiliated with the Hope campaign. He said the timing is “terrible” and that he didn’t think word of the investigation would leak out before the election.

In a letter requesting the investigation, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe wrote that his office had learned from a third party, whom Roe did not name, that a public official “may have committed the crime of official misconduct.” The letter does not indicate what the allegations are about.

“This is a highly sensitive situation, since even the existence of an investigation could have significant impacts on the individuals involved, and even on county government as a whole,” Roe wrote.

In a news release, Roe, a Democrat, emphasized the allegations were unproven. Reardon said no one has contacted him from the state patrol or prosecutor’s office to ask questions.

Comments | More in Government | Topics: Aaron Reardon, investigation, Snohomish County

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