Aaron Reardon used county phone for campaign-related calls, records suggest

EVERETT — The criminal investigation of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon has turned up documents suggesting he used his taxpayer-funded cellphone this year to make hundreds of campaign-related calls.

The county released phone logs and other records Friday under public records laws. The documents were compiled to satisfy a request for records from the Washington State Patrol. The agency is investigating whether Reardon engaged in misconduct by misusing public resources.

Patrol investigators likely will pore over the phone records, which cover 2008 through last month, looking for evidence that Reardon had repeated contact with a woman who has claimed she accompanied him on out-of-town trips that he said were for county business.

The phone records show hundreds of calls and text messages between Reardon and key members of his political campaign over the past year.

During his successful campaign for a third term in the county’s top job, Reardon publicly insisted there was no commingling of his political activities and county business.

Reardon on Friday said no public resources were used.

“I only used the county phone when I had to reschedule,” he said. “I didn’t use it in any campaign at all.”

A close examination of cellphone records between Nov. 1 and Election Day, Nov. 8, showed 30 calls or texts to Reardon’s campaign manager, Zach Shelton. That was the most frequently called number during the period.

The second-most called number was King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, who serves with Reardon on the Sound Transit board. One third of those calls and messages with von Reichbauer came on Nov. 3 in the hours immediately after the State Patrol investigation became public.

“That was a busy week and all my campaign work is done on my personal cell phone or in person,” Reardon said.

Throughout 2011, Reardon exchanged 109 calls or texts with the Nashville, Tenn., media-strategy firm Fletcher Rowley, which produced withering attack ads directed at Reardon’s campaign opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens.

Reardon said those calls also were for scheduling purposes only and that substantive campaign work would have involved more time.

However, the cellphone records show calls with the campaign consultant lasting up to 43 minutes in August.

The patrol’s investigation focuses on alleged official misconduct, a gross misdemeanor.

A woman who claimed to have accompanied Reardon on the trips brought the concerns to County Council Chairman Dave Somers in October.

The woman, who has been a county employee since the late 1990s, told a Seattle newspaper she took the trips as part of an affair with Reardon, who is married.

Reardon in an email last month said he is confident he would be fully exonerated of all criminal charges.

On Friday, he refused to answer questions about the woman or discuss the investigation.

“I’ll let you know after I hear from the State Patrol,” he said Friday.

Reardon, a Democrat, wrested a decisive victory over Hope. Final election results showed Reardon with 55.2 percent of the vote to 44.4 for Hope.

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

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