3 years of county executive’s records sought

  • Wed Nov 16th, 2011 10:50pm
  • News

By Noah Haglund Herald Writer

Washington State Patrol detectives want to see Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s travel and credit card records for the past three years.

They’re also asking Reardon’s office to supply documents about the executive’s mobile phone and email usage during that time.

Detectives sought the information from Reardon’s office under the state’s Public Records Act. The request is dated Nov. 9, the day after this year’s general election, which saw Reardon soundly beat state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, to win a third term.

The patrol’s record search is part of a criminal investigation into allegations of official misconduct. The investigation was launched last month after a woman who works for the county approached a county councilman with concerns and reportedly said she is fearful of Reardon.

Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson said the patrol’s records request would be handled like others the office receives from the news media or the general public.

“As we have material available we will release it,” Haakenson wrote in an email.

Police can compel people to kick loose records under a search warrant, but to do so, they must present a judge with reasons to believe the material contains evidence of a crime. Those affidavits of probable cause routinely become public — and often before investigators wish.

Reardon is away from the office this week and has not responded to emails and phone calls from The Herald.

Haakenson said Reardon is rock-climbing in California. The deputy executive said Wednesday he has been in email contact with Reardon, and that Reardon is aware of the hand-written notes released by the county this week, in response to public records requests.

“I have no reason to believe he intends to comment until the WSP investigation is over,” Haakenson said.

The patrol launched its investigation in late October at the request of Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe.

The probe got under way after a woman who works for the county brought allegations about Reardon’s travel and spending of public money to the office of County Council Chairman Dave Somers. The councilman quickly sought advice from county attorneys.

Word of the investigation became public on Nov. 3. The timing — five days before the election deadline to mail in ballots — prompted howls of protest from Reardon and his supporters.

On Wednesday, a patrol spokesman declined to provide further details of the investigation.

In the most recent ballot counts, Reardon continued to command 55 percent of the votes cast. The results are scheduled to be certified Nov. 29.

Hope’s campaign encouraged reporters to investigate rumors of the patrol investigation into Reardon’s activities. Somers and others connected with the case insist it’s not politically motivated.

Roe and Somers have said they never intended for word of the investigation to become public before detectives reached some conclusions. Somers and Roe, like Reardon, are Democrats, though they declined to endorse either candidate in the executive’s race.

This week, the County Council supplied copies of redacted notes that Somers’ aide took during a face-to-face meeting and a phone conversation with the woman who brought the complaint. The paperwork was released by the council in response to public records requests.

The four pages of handwritten notes refer to the woman being fearful of Reardon and say he “could do her harm.”

They don’t detail the woman’s reported connection to Reardon or the allegations she shared. They do include her reported claim that Reardon three months ago told her they “were being followed.”

The notes specifically mention New York City and Chicago. The patrol’s request includes both foreign and domestic travel, which would include trips Reardon has taken to the United Arab Emirates, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.