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Published: Thursday, September 29, 2011, 1:54 p.m.

The tangled Web behind the Hope-Reardon tiff

Noah Haglund has spent part of this week trying to untangle the mystery regarding the origin of ethics complaints against Mike Hope, the Republican candidate for Snohomish County executive.

Noah has a well-deserved day off. In the meantime, there has been more mystery, more questions, more Googling for information that some claim is evidence of conspiracy but just as easily might be signs that somebody is a bit hasty in the accusation department.

To recap, Hope, a Seattle cop and state representative, is trying to keep incumbent Aaron Reardon from winning a third term. Reardon, the Democrat, led in the primary and has a lot more campaign cash left to spend.

Hope's camp in recent days has broken Reardon's rhythm. His campaign has suggested that one of Reardon's staffers may be behind complaints brought against Hope at the Seattle Police Department and with the state Public Disclosure Commission. The complainant in each instance was somebody who called himself John Chambers.

It gets interesting because John Chambers apparently was confused about where he lived, and he provided addresses in Seattle and Granite Falls in official correspondence about the complaints. The Granite Falls address is the sometimes home of Kevin Hulten, a Reardon office employee and former editor at the weekly Lake Stevens Journal. Hulten has denied in an email that he's involved in the complaints against Hope, but he's dodged interview requests from The Herald.

Hulten has a younger brother, Kyle Hulten, who recently graduated from law school.

On Wednesday evening, Hope sent The Herald an email suggesting that Kyle Hulten works for Adam Matherly, a young Seattle attorney who this week went on record as representing John Chambers. You following this? Kevin's brother, Kyle, reportedly works for Adam, who represents John.

We called Adam Matherly this morning and asked him, as an officer of the court, to please tell us whether Kyle Hulten works for him or has ever been in his employ. We also wanted to know whether Kyle Hulten was in a position to help in any way on the public records request for Hope's police records that Matherly acknowledges advising Chambers about. No on all counts.

We spent some time Googling. Kyle Hulten was linked to Matherly in some twitter posts. Kyle Hulten also has a Facebook friend named "J.T. Chambers," which is one of the names that has been used by the person who complained about Hope. Moreover, there is an Excel spreadsheet out there on the Web that indicates Kyle Hulten and a J.T. Chambers both were somehow involved with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Washington.

Around noon we received an email from Blair Anderson, Hope's treasurer, drawing attention to the same Internet content and offering this conclusion:

"The mysterious John 'J.T' Chambers who has filed multiple frivolous complaints is apparently a U.W. frat buddy of Hulten's younger brother Kyle. What are the chances of that???"

We've written the Hulten brothers and the others named in this drama for their thoughts.

Kevin Hulten sent this reply just before 1:30 p.m.:
Scott - I'll release a statement this afternoon. I reject the notion that because Blair Anderson emailed you stuff about my family, they are now public figures. Considering that just two days ago, you ran a story in which Mike Hope definitively said that I was JT Chambers -- a statement that you have not forced him to retract -- and considering you published that statement while in possession of documentation from JT confirming his identity, I would advise my brother that he is better off not speaking to you.

Thanks Scott. I hope you will consider re-examining the evidence at a later date, as this story has been completely dictated by Mike Hope's error-filled political press releases. Well, in my opinion at least.

For the record, Kevin Hulten is mistaken about what we knew and when we knew it about Chambers. If you have any doubts, read Noah's story.

UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: Kevin Hulten sent us several messages this afternoon, but none appeared to be the statement he promised earlier. Maybe he'll weigh in on his own in the comments later?

Meanwhile, his younger brother, Kyle Hulten, politely declined to be interviewed.

"My official statement is 'no comment,'" he wrote in an email. "I don't have anything to do with this story. I have never worked for Mr. Matherly in any capacity and have no idea why anyone would say that I have."

We talked with Mike Hope this afternoon, who said he has no plans to retract any of the allegations he's made in connection with this flap.

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