A Seattle law firm has been hired to investigate a handful of Snohomish Co. elected officials in response to allegations made by Kevin Hulten, an aide to County Executive Aaron Reardon.

The office of Deputy Snohomish County Executive Gary Haakenson confirmed that the county hired Ogden, Murphy, Wallace to conduct the investigation.

Hulten is one of two Reardon aides who made a series of expansive public records requests last year that sought information about Reardon s political opponents.

Hulten was put on leave when his actions were described in media reports, after which he filed whistleblower complaints alleging that several Snohomish County officials conspired to undermine Reardon.

Such complaints typically would be examined by the county prosecutor s office. But some key officials in the prosecutor s office are targeted in Hulten s complaints, so the county was forced to recruit an independent investigator. Similarly, Hulten's actions are being investigated by the King County Sheriff's Office to any possible conflict within Snohomish Co. government.

Earlier this month, Hulten showed KING 5 records that he believed support his case against the prosecutor s office.

He said phone records of a civil prosecutor who is supposed to provide legal representation to Reardon show that the prosecutor called newspaper reporters scores of times. Hulten believes the lawyer was tipping the reporters to unflattering stories about Reardon.

Reardon announced his resignation (not effective until May) when the records requests and some attack web sites were linked to Hulten and another of Reardon s employees by The Daily Herald in Everett.

Hulten is on leave during the sheriff s investigation.

A spokesperson for the Deputy Executive said the county doesn t yet know how much the law firm s investigation will cost taxpayers because the scope of the probe hasn t been determined.

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