The King County Prosecutor’s Office has filed theft charges against Michael King, the former executive director of the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, for alleging embezzling between $250,000 and $300,000 from the group.
King has made a “full confession” to police and blamed the theft on a drinking and gambling problem, according to charging documents filed Tuesday afternoon. A police review of his bank records found dozens of bank withdrawals at area casinos. King was charged four counts of first degree theft and four counts of second degree theft and is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 7.
He apparently took the money between March 2011 and January 2013 by “reimbursing” himself for made-up expenses, according to the documents.
The charges had been expected after financial irregularities were noticed earlier this year by other members of the group, which raises money to support Democratic candidates for the state Senate.
In February, the leaders of the group held a conference call to announce a probe into King’s actions.
The theft has raised questions for state senator and mayoral candidate Ed Murray, D-Seattle, one of three co-chairs of the SDCC, which aids Democratic candidates for the state Senate. Democrats narrowly lost a key Senate race in Southwest Washington last year, giving Republicans the votes they needed to form a “majority coalition caucus” with two conservative Democrats to seize control of the state Senate.
Murray and fellow SDCC co-chairs Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, released a statement Wednesday saying they were “disappointed that this theft occurred” and that the SDCC had “made necessary changes” to ensure such a theft never happens again, including ensuring that the group’s executive director cannot write checks without approval.
The trio planned a conference call with reporters later today to discuss the charges.