The Snohomish County Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday morning asking County Executive Aaron Reardon to voluntarily go on administrative leave until the Washington State Patrol completes an investigation into Reardon's travel expenses.
"This action doesn't come easily," Councilman Dave Somers said during the council meeting. "We've lost the trust of the public."
The resolution passed the council by a vote of 4-0; Councilwoman Stephanie Wright was absent.
Somers said the request comes "amid new details reported last week by regional media outlets ... inluding detailed descriptions of county resources used for his political campaign and to facilitate a personal relationship with a county employee."
In response to the council's approval of the resolution, Reardon released a video statement (watch below) in which he expressed his committment to his job but did not mention the investigation or the controversy surrounding it.
“As your county executive, I’m focused on the issues that the people in Snohomish County care about and doing the work that matters, like maintaining a balanced budget without raising taxes, creating jobs and economic opportunities, and serving our seniors and those on limited incomes. That is the commitment that I made to the people of Snohomish County and I intend to keep it. And I stand ready to work with anyone, including the Snohomish County Council, to get the job done,” said Reardon.
Reardon briefly commented later when a KING 5 News reporter sighted him after the council vote.
"It is what it is...I have a job to do and I'm focusing on that job and I will continue to do that," said Reardon. "The investigation hasn't been a distraction at all."
The WSP investigation into Reardon's travel expenses began last fall, shortly before Reardon won reelection to a third term. The investigation was prompted by complaints about Reardon's travel expenses.
At the time, Somers 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.
Last week, county employee Tamara Dutton told KING 5 News that she had a long-running affair with Reardon, who is married. She said Reardon used county funds to conduct the affair during official out-of-town business trips.
Also last week, the Everett Herald reported on Reardon's use of official office and other resources to campaign for reelection.
In the statement released Tuesday, Somers said he believes Reardon, a fellow Democrat, deserves due process. But given the budget problems facing the county and state, Somers said he questioned Reardon's ability to manage county business while also dealing with the investigation.
Aaron Reardon's video statement:
Reporting by KING 5's Jake Whittenberg