King County sheriff to investigate Reardon’s office

  • By Noah Haglund and Scott North Herald Writers
  • Thursday, February 28, 2013 4:26pm
  • Local NewsLocal news

EVERETT — The King County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to investigate a series of public records requests targeting nearly 20 people in Snohomish County government and related attack websites that went after rivals of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon.

Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich has agreed to review the King County detectives’ findings to determine whether any laws were broken.

Snohomish County leaders requested the outside investigation following Herald stories that linked the anonymous records requests and websites to two staffers in Reardon’s office, analyst Kevin Hulten and aide Jon Rudicil. The requests, made under the name “Edmond Thomas,” focus on people who cooperated with a Washington State Patrol investigation of Reardon’s use of public money during county business trips. That investigation ended last year without any charges being filed.

Reardon opted not to go on leave while he was investigated.

That wasn’t an option for his staff.

“We put Kevin Hulten and Jon Rudicil on paid administrative leave until the investigation is over,” Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson said. “Everyone in our office is completely willing to cooperate with the King County Sheriff’s Office in anything they may need.”

Haakenson said he delivered the news in person to Hulten, who reacted calmly. He left Rudicil a message on voicemail.

“I am confident that King County will provide the independent and thorough review of all allegations that our citizens and employees deserve,” County Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright said.

Reardon last week announced that he plans to resign effective May 31. His resignation is not official until he submits a formal letter to the County Council, which had not received one as of Thursday morning.

In response to The Herald stories, Reardon issued a statement saying that Hulten sought county records during his own time. Reardon said he had no knowledge of what his staff was doing. He also called for an investigation.

The complicated inter-county review comes amid a tangle of potential legal conflicts since Reardon and his staff came under the renewed scrutiny.

King County prosecutors already had agreed to advise the County Council on how to respond to a “whistle-blower” complaint it received last week, accusing Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe and others in his office of engaging in government misconduct.

A similar complaint appears to have been made to state auditors. On Thursday, they decided against opening their own investigation because Snohomish County has its own protocols in place and those take precedence, Deputy State Auditor Matt Miller said.

While officials haven’t publicly identified Hulten as having made either complaint, those familiar with the allegations presented to the county say Hulten is seeking “whistle-blower” protection, alleging that he is investigating Roe, the media and others he claims are conspiring against Reardon.

Hulten has not returned phone calls and emails seeking comment.

The investigation by King County is necessary because the records requests have devoured a “pretty massive amount” of county resources, and detectives “may be able to tell whether they were done for the pure purpose of harassment or intimidation,” Roe said. “If so, that conceivably could be a crime.”

The prosecutor said he doesn’t know if the detectives have plans to look at his conduct. Being the subject of scrutiny is part of the job, Roe said.

“I’ve gotten complaints from robbers and rapists and murderers throughout my whole career. Nobody becomes a prosecutor because they want to be loved,” he said.

Haakenson said that he’s not had a chance to question Hulten about records requests submitted under the name “Edmond Thomas” that sought information about Haakenson, Hulten’s direct supervisor.

The requests to the city of Edmonds and the county demanded records about Haakenson’s involvement in a city park project during the time that he was Edmonds mayor, before joining the county in 2010.

“I will wait until the investigation is over to have that conversation,” Haakenson said.

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

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

High-speed, tire-shredding Marysville chase ends in capture

The 28-year-old driver is now being held for investigation of more than 25 criminal counts.

Election results for Snohomish County school districts

Updated 2/16: Here are the returns for Tuesday’s special election ballot measures.

School levies still passing in 3 districts after latest tally

In the initial count, ballot measures in Lake Stevens, Marysville and Snohomish had been losing.

7-hour police standoff near Lynnwood ends with surrender

Deputies seized a rifle, pellet gun and knife at the scene.

Scattered power outages around region after gusty Saturday

Up to 2 inches of snow could fall in some lowland areas of Snohomish County, forecasters said.

Front Porch

EVENTS Learn about the microgrid Snohomish County PUD plans an open house… Continue reading

Ban on bump-fire stocks makes progress in State House

The Senate approved the bill but would need to vote on any changes made by the House.

We might see snow in the lowlands this weekend

Snow in the mountain passes will definitely be deep, forecasters say.

Most Read