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Everett mayor’s romantic life put under audit by council

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Mayor Cassie Franklin during a 2019 budget rollout.

EVERETT — The Everett City Council hired an outside law firm to investigate Mayor Cassie Franklin's alleged romantic relationship with a male co-worker within the mayor's office.
The investigation looks at whether any city finances or city facilities were used for the personal relationship — think along the lines of off-work dinners paid with a city credit card or similar.
"We need to look into all of that," Council President Brenda Stonecipher said.
Stonecipher said the reason they’re checking is for the public. "We believe we need to conduct this work on behalf of the taxpayers," Stonecipher said.
An outside attorney and an outside investigator will do the work. The attorney should cost less than $5,000**, Stonecipher said, and the investigator could cost around $10,000.
Hiring outside counsel Lisa Marshall will come from the city legal department’s budget, Stonecipher said.
The investigators’ work will be paid for from the council’s annual $75,000 contingency money for its projects.
In a press release sent to media, Stonecipher said that "I hope and expect this work will reveal no wrongdoing, but I do believe it is our obligation as elected officials to ensure that government is operating effectively and lawfully. This is vital to preserve and protect our community’s faith in the integrity of our municipal government.”
The City Council worked with the city's attorneys on drafting a contract to hire outside experts for the City Council's investigation. The press release states there is no timeline for when results may come out.
Franklin, 51, did not reply to a reporter's phone call to her cell phone on file. Her divorce that she petitioned for finalized in December, court records show.
The Tribune is holding back naming the male co-worker at this time. While he is a top City Hall administrator, he is not an elected official and no crime has been made known.
“The City of Everett does not have any citywide policies regarding relationships with subordinate employees,” city spokeswoman Simone Tarver said.
Rumors of the relationship were recent, Stonecipher said.
The Herald reported it tried to reach Franklin earlier this month on the topic.
The council's vote to start the investigation was 7-0.
Councilmembers generally could not speak to the investigation.
As for voting yes, Councilwoman Paula Rhyne said by email she did because "my primary responsibility as an Everett City Councilmember is to ensure the proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars and supporting a council-initiated thorough and independent investigation will fulfill that duty."

** -- Update from press version: Council President Brenda Stonecipher confirmed the attorney's work should cost less than $5,000.



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