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Published: Friday, October 7, 2011, 6:05 p.m.

Our file on the Reardon-Hope records skirmish gets thicker

Throughout this week we continued to dig into the controversy surrounding a Snohomish County government employee's efforts to find dirt on Mike Hope, the Seattle cop and state legislator who is running to unseat two-term incumbent County Executive Aaron Reardon.

Public records requests The Herald made to the Mill Creek Police Department turned up more documents from a traffic stop 11 years ago that Hope probably would have liked to see consigned to the mists of time.

But the newly released records also unveiled a paper trail detailing how Kevin Hulten, who is paid $59,000 a year to work for Reardon as an executive analyst, early last month engaged in what he characterized as an urgent, on-deadline hunt for records related to Hope.

In the box to the right are documents we think best lay out what we found. Read. React below.

If you'd rather spend your time in more productive ways, however, here are the details with dots connected.

Kevin Hulten

On Sept. 8 Hulten, of Lake Stevens, apparently showed up in person at Mill Creek police headquarters. He filed a public records request for information related to a March 2000 traffic stop in which Hope was a passenger. The driver, a woman that Hope then was dating, was arrested and charged with drunken driving. She later pleaded guilty to negligent driving.

Hulten learned details of the traffic incident after reviewing Seattle police disciplinary records for Hope, who was punished in 2001 for trying to talk the cops out of arresting his date that night and then getting lippy when they refused. Hulten attached some of the Seattle documents about Hope to his Sept. 8 Mill Creek record request.

The Seattle documents surfaced after a records request by a Hulten associate, John Chambers of Seattle. Chambers stepped forward recently and acknowledged investigating Hope and filing campaign complaints against him.

In his Mill Creek records request, Hulten identified himself as "Stephen K. Hulten" but signed the document with his given name (which court records say is Kevin T. Hulten). A verifiable street address, working phone numbers and Hulten's email account were provided to police.

Hulten also brought with him a copy of a Sept. 6 request to Mill Creek police, filed by Chambers, seeking the same records Hulten wanted.

Police were left with the impression that Hulten and Chambers were somehow connected, enough so that they sought Hulten's help this week in tracking Chambers down to update him on the status of his records request.

Mill Creek officials also believed Hulten and his inquiry were somehow connected to the weekly Lake Stevens Journal newspaper.

On Sept. 9, Hulten exchanged several emails with Mill Creek's records technician, indicating he had urgent need for the Hope documents. The messages were sent from his Gmail account at 12:20 p.m., 12:40 p.m., 1:13 p.m. and 2:10 p.m.

Hulten wrote that he was on deadline and needed to let his boss know whether the police department would be releasing the records that day.

Hulten used to be an editor at the Lake Stevens Journal, but he hasn't been on staff for years.

Pam Stevens, the paper's managing editor and co-publisher, on Thursday said there had been no discussion with Hulten about working on any story about Hope.

On Friday, Desiree Cahoon, the paper's publisher and president, sent a lengthy message noting that Hulten is no longer on staff but that he does have Lake Stevens Journal press credentials and that she thinks highly of his abilities. The full message is included in the box at right.

Hulten did not respond to our messages. His boss, Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson, called the Herald newsroom Thursday to ask that Hulten not be contacted about political matters, including questions for this story, during working hours.

The deputy executive said he has no plans to examine more closely whether Hulten engaged in any campaign activity using county resources.

"Everything that I have heard from you, or read in the paper, it appears he has done on his own time," Haakenson said.

Mike Hope

Hope on Friday shared with the newspaper dozens of pages of documents from his personnel file. The records document a 14-year police career that is more studded with commendation than complaint.

The Herald presented Hope with Mill Creek police reports from the 2000 traffic stop, including a memo that was then sent to his bosses in Seattle, decrying what happened.

The memo said the March 20, 2000, stop wasn't the only time Mill Creek police had encountered Hope as a passenger in a car being driven by somebody who had been drinking. In the earlier incidents, the officer wrote, Hope had asked for "officer discretion" in letting an intoxicated friend go.

"I told Hope that this is not the first time that this has happened with him and that he and his friends have received more (than) their fair share of breaks," a Mill Creek officer wrote in 2000.

Hope on Friday said that Seattle police investigated his misbehavior, held him accountable for what he did and he hasn't repeated the errors.

He said that as county executive, he'd establish a similar system to identify misdeeds and hold people in government accountable.

"It was stupid. It was a dumb mistake," he said.

We've opted not to post Hope's entire personnel file. What we've been given are his work records, and the amount of news value isn't equal to the time and energy required to make them Web ready. If Hope wants you to read his pay history, details of the training he's received or letters of thanks from people he's met on the job, that's his call.

The portion of Hope's file most relevant to this controversy can be found in the box to the right as part of the records received from Mill Creek police.

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