The Island County Prosecutor will not charge Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon for misuse of public funds, saying there is insufficient evidence to prosecute.
The Washington State Patrol investigation into Reardon's travel expenses began last fall, shortly before Reardon won reelection to a third term. An alleged mistress stepped forward, claiming Reardon used public money to fund trips for the two of them.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks was assigned the case to avoid conflict of interest issues with Snohomish County's prosecutors.
At the time, Snohomish County Councilman Dave 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.
In February, 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.
After Dutton came forward with her story, several Snohomish County elected officials had urged Reardon to take a leave of absence until the WSP investigation was complete. Reardon did not respond to those calls, which came from both Democratic and Republican politicians.
After months of investigation, Banks said there was not sufficient evidence to prove Dutton's allegations to a jury.
Even the complaining witness had doubts about who was paying for Mr. Reardon's travel, whether Mr. Reardon paid for meals and lodging using a county or personal credit card. She did not know whether Mr. Reardon reimbursed the county for personal expenses that were put on a county credit card, said Banks in a press release.
Other trips that were investigated occurred so far in the past that the statute of limitations bars prosecution for non-felony crimes, Banks said.
I really think he could have done a better job investigating that before making those comments, Dutton said Wednesday.
That's not to say that Ms. Dutton have suspicions or concerns, but she raised them, they were investigated, we reviewed the investigation. The end result was there's not enough to charge a crime here, said Banks.
He never spoke to me. So his comments regarding him not being sure I knew what I was talking about I find offensive, said Dutton.
Somers, who was first approached by Dutton, said it's time to move on.
I think we can look back and say we did the right thing. It's not been pleasant, but at least we've got a conclusion to the investigation, said Somers.
Reardon was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but his attorneys released a statement, calling the allegations against Reardon contrived and appear motivated by politics.
Regardless of Wednesday's decision, Dutton stands by her accusations.
If you're in power, you can do what you want, said Dutton. And that's scary.
The Public Disclosure Commission now begins an investigation into whether Reardon used county funds for his campaign. That could result in a fine of up to $10,000.
KING 5's Jake Whittenberg, Travis Pittman and Liza Javier.