A King County councilmember is calling on the FBI to launch a “public corruption” investigation into a south King County government agency exposed by the KING 5 Investigators.
“As a former federal prosecutor and lawyer at the Justice Department, I can tell you that public corruption, if applicable here, is a very serious crime that should be considered from federal investigation,” King County Councilman Reagan Dunn wrote in a letter to FBI Special Agent in Charge Raymond P. Duda.
The letter asks Agent Duda to investigate claims that the commissioner of King County Drainage District 5 in Enumclaw diverted taxpayer money from more than 600 property owners to his own bank account.
During a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Monday, the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee will consider a motion that would require the executive's office to provide recommendations for a plan that ensures elections compliance and financial review for special districts throughout King County.
The proposed legislation follows a KING 5 investigation that found an election for King County Drainage District 5 hadn't been held since 1988. The commissioner of that district, Allan Thomas, is responsible for calling an election.
Thomas oversaw the collection of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that was making its way into his personal back account, the investigation found.
Thomas insists that all the spending on his watch was done properly.
Further investigation found more than 150 small governments across the state have the power to tax property owners within their boundaries. An old law allows them to do so without requiring a public vote or without officials having to be re-elected.
The legislation was introduced by King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn and co-sponsored by Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.
"It is my hope that this motion will create an additional layer of oversight that will bring more openness and accountability to special purpose districts in King County, such as Drainage Districts," Councilmember Dunn said.
Councilmember von Reichbauer says elected officials should not be responsible for handling their own elections.
"Elected officials should be held accountable to the public, no matter who they are or the size of the district they represent," Councilmember von Reichbauer said.
King County has 103 special purpose districts. The largest is the Port of Seattle with more than 1 million voters, and the smallest is Stevens Pass Sewer District with seven voters.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck told KING 5 that he has been assured by King County council members that the port is not included in the FBI review.