EVERETT, Wash. -- Snohomish County GOP Chairman Bill Cooper on Wednesday said County Executive Aaron Reardon should be placed on leave or voluntarily take a leave of absence until an ongoing investigation into his travel expenses is completed.
“He should either be put on leave, or place himself on leave,” said Cooper. “This is not a partisan issue. He is in a position of public trust and these allegations are too severe to have him carry on.”
Cooper said Reardon should be considered innocent until an ongoing investigation by the Washington State Patrol is concluded.
Cooper's statement comes a day after KING 5 News aired an interview with Tamara Dutton, a Snohomish County employee who detailed a years-long affair with Reardon that included out-of-town trips paid for in part by the county.
Snohomish County Councilman John Koster said Dutton’s claims are "surprising." But Koster said it was not uncommon for Reardon to be absent during important National Association of Counties conferences in Washington D.C. although the executive was in the nation's capital to attend.
“He just wasn’t there. You’d think he would be.” said Koster, a Republican currently running for U.S. congress.
According to travel receipts obtained through a public records request, Reardon, a Democrat, has taken 28 out-of-county business trips since 2004.
Koster said he’s seen little to no benefit from Reardon taking these trips.
The WSP investigation into Reardon's travel expenses began last fall, shortly before Reardon won reelection to a third term as county executive. The investigation was prompted by complaints about Reardon's travel expenses.
Dave Somers, chairman of the Snohomish County Council, said someone came to him regarding Reardon's travel expenses on out-of-town trips. Somers said he then took the allegations to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office, which contacted Washington State Patrol to further investigate. WSP revealed its investigation into Reardon on November 3.