SEATTLE – The Washington State Patrol is investigating Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon for alleged misappropriation of public funds. It comes five days before Reardon faces re-election.
"I have not been notified or given any details by the Washington State Patrol or anybody else regarding an accusation of 'misuse of funds,'" said Reardon in a statement Thursday afternoon.
"It's politically motivated," Reardon, a Democrat, later said at a press conference. "It's obvious."
Dave Somers, Chairman of the Snohomish County Council and a fellow Democrat, told KING 5 News, 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.
"I thought it was serious enough to pass it on," Somers said. "It wasn't just rumor. It was some information."
Somers would not disclose who gave him the information and did not feel comfortable discussing details of the allegations, only saying, "It's mostly travel issues." He added that they are simply allegations until proven true or false and he feels it is unfortunate that news of investigation became public.
"It looks unfortunate being right on top of the election," Somers said. "Certainly it wasn't our intention to do anything like that."
Somers has not endorse either candidate in the race for county executive.
In a press release, Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe said “a third party came forward with allegations that I believe require an independent investigation to determine the facts.” Roe said he asked the state patrol to launch an investigation.
Roe sent a letter to the state patrol Oct. 26 requesting the investigation.
"We agreed to be the fact finder in this case, so we will do the criminal investigation and we will refer our findings back to either the Snohomish County Prosecutor or another prosecutor as he may designate to review the case," said WSP spokesman Bob Calkins.
Roe said the allegations are unproven at this point, but if true, could potentially constitute a criminal act.
"All funding appropriations and expenditures are reviewed by multiple departments as they are made as well as by the state auditor's office on an annual basis," said Reardon. "There are numerous checks and balances in place to prevent the misuse of public funds and to identify any discrepancies. In addition, earlier allegations made against me by a Republican Party Officer in April, regarding the misuse of funds for travel were categorically dismissed by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission."
Reardon implied that the timing of the accusations is a political ploy.
"This is a nameless, baseless accusation that comes five days before the election. I am more than confident that voters in Snohomish County will see through this appalling charade and not be duped," said Reardon.
Calkins said the state patrol will take its time to get the facts.
"It's more important to be right than fast, so we'll take the time we need to gather all the relevant facts so that we can give whatever prosecutor who makes a charging decision the best possible information," said Calkins.
Roe said he would have taken the same steps no matter who the accusations were against.