‘Enough is enough’: Reardon to step down May 31
Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick expresses interest in job
EVERETT - Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon announced he would be resigning on May 31 amid a maelstrom of scandals and battles with the County Council.
Reardon made the announcement at the end of his annual state of the county address Thursday, Feb. 21 as he faced mounting calls for a full investigation of his administration on whether or not he broke campaign rules during his 2011 bid for re-election.
The County Council will select an interim county executive to finish Reardon’s term, which ends in 2015, within 60 days of Reardon’s last day. The Democratic Party of Snohomish County will nominate three candidates to the council. If the County Council can’t make a decision, Gov. Jay Inslee will make the selection.
A media investigation of Reardon’s 2011 election campaign found a staff member engineered a series of exhaustive public records requests to find dirt on Reardon’s political opponents. The executive office said in a statement that Reardon’s legislative aide Kevin Hulten made the requests under a pseudonym and that he acted on his own. Reardon claims he didn’t ask for Hulten to make the requests. Hulten repeatedly has denied to the press he made the requests. In a television interview, though, Hulten appeared to admit to making the requests.
In his county address last week, Reardon formally requested an independent third-party investigation into himself and his staff on all recent allegations, and to investigate any other allegations from county officials if they are made. County Prosecutor Mark Roe was considering an independent investigation of Reardon’s administration as of last week, the Herald reported.
Some have called Reardon’s administration “Nixonian” after media reports revealed Hulten’s actions of trying to dig up dirt and creating online attacks on Reardon’s 2011 opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope. Reardon is currently being investigated by the state Public Disclosure Commission, which is the state agency that oversees campaign spending.
Reardon has repeatedly denied allegations of political misconduct.
A 2012 Herald investigation found evidence suggesting Reardon spent hours working on his re-election campaign on his county phones during work hours. Reardon was logging the hours as county business. The information came to light while scouring reimbursement records for a separate investigation into whether or not Reardon misused public funds during his alleged six-year extramarital affair with a county employee, an affair that included out-of-state trips with Reardon.
An extensive investigation submitted by the Washington State Patrol to the Island County Prosecutor’s Office, which found “insufficient evidence” to charge Reardon with any crimes of misusing public funds during his re-election campaign and for the trips during the affair.
Elected officials are prohibited from using public resources for political campaigns.
In his resignation announcement, Reardon said “enough is enough,” stating the scandals have taken a toll on his marriage and family.
The council does not have the authority to impeach the executive. Recall efforts by citizens to get rid of Reardon fell away in recent months.
Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson, a Republican and Reardon’s second in command, would have taken over for Reardon if the executive instead took a leave of absence.
The County Council passed a non-binding request that asked Reardon to take a leave of absence last February during the Washington State Patrol’s ongoing investigation of Reardon’s use of public funds.
Reardon was elected county executive in 2003. Early in his career Reardon was considered a rising star within the state Democratic Party.
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