By Scott North and Noah Haglund Herald Writers
EVERETT — Phone bills for Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon appear to document lengthy conversations earlier this year with the female county employee who claims she accompanied him on county trips as part of a long-running affair.
The woman on Monday declined a formal interview by The Herald. The newspaper confirmed her personal phone number is connected to two calls with Reardon in January totaling more than 100 minutes plus two texts later in the year.
The woman also said she typically uses a phone with a blocked number. Reardon’s records show more than 100 blocked-number calls so far this year, many lengthy. It is impossible at this time to determine with whom Reardon was communicating.
The county phone bills from 2008 through early November were released Friday under public records laws. Reardon’s office assembled the records for the Washington State Patrol, which is investigating whether he engaged in official misconduct by misusing public resources.
Using those records, The Herald created a database detailing how Reardon has used his county-issued cell phone in 2011. In all, there have been nearly 10,000 phone calls, text messages and data transfers.
Reardon did not respond Monday to repeated calls and messages seeking comment for this story.
As Patrol investigators likely will do, the newspaper pored over the records, searching for indications that Reardon has had contact with a woman who has claimed she accompanied him on out-of-town trips that he said were for county business.
The analysis showed Reardon typically spends more than an hour a day talking on his county cellphone, and more than 15 percent of that time he’s communicating with his close political ally, state Sen. Steven Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. In all, Hobbs and Reardon were on the phone together about 90 hours during the year.
Hobbs said he’s known Reardon since 1994 and this year they have been discussing ways to keep Boeing jobs in the area and provide aerospace training opportunities.
“We talk a lot about legislative issues,” he said. “I’ve known him for a really long time.”
When asked about the amount of time on the phone, Hobbs laughed and said that’s part of the job.
“My kids make fun of me for being on the cell phone all the time,” he said.
The person Reardon has communicated with most frequently on his county cellphone this year is his wife, Kate. Not far behind, however, are the people who helped run his successful 2011 re-election campaign.
Topping the list was Reardon’s Olympia-based campaign manager, Zach Shelton. He and Reardon had more than 750 communications using the county cellphone, including nearly 10 hours of phone conversations and more than 600 text messages. About half of the texts were sent by Reardon, and often during normal business hours.
Reardon’s longtime campaign consultant, Terry Thompson of Olympia-based TR Strategies, was next on the list, with more than 525 contacts, including roughly 27 hours of phone conversations. While much of those talks happened early in the day or at night, many also occurred during hours when the county administration was open for business, the data show.
Reardon’s campaign this year paid Thompson nearly $60,000 for advice during this election season, according to state campaign records.
Political fundraiser Colby Underwood, of Seattle, had more than 450 cellphone communications with Reardon, including more than nine hours of phone conversations and 300 text messages.
Reardon on Friday said that many of his contacts with Underwood have been related to alternative energy projects at the old Cathcart landfill.
Reardon used his cellphone to regularly call several of his key staff, including his executive assistant Nancy Peinecke, executive director Brian Parry and spokesman Christopher Schwarzen.
But the county number Reardon has communicated with the most this year is for the cellphone issued to Kevin Hulten, an executive analyst who is a junior employee in Reardon’s office.
During the election season, Hulten attracted attention after he spent time digging up records from a 2000 traffic stop in Mill Creek. That incident involved Reardon’s election opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens. Hope was a passenger in the car, but the records contained embarrassing information about his behavior during the stop, which earned Hope a brief suspension from his job with the Seattle Police Department.
The decade-old records became the focus of attack ads that Reardon’s campaign aimed at Hope.
As recently as Friday, Reardon insisted Hulten had nothing to do with his campaign.
“No public resources were used by my campaign or anybody else and Kevin Hulten was not part of the campaign,” he said.
Reardon phone records for Sept. 9, however, show the county executive using his government cellphone to call Hulten four times. That happened during the hours Hulten sent a Mill Creek records clerk a series of four emails, asking whether records about the case involving Hope would be released that afternoon.
Reardon called Hulten at 2:09 p.m. At 2:10 p.m., Hulten wrote, “Can you give me an eta so I can tell my boss I’m really sorry to push.” Reardon called Hulten again at 2:12 p.m.
Hulten, a former weekly newspaper editor, worked as a legislative aide for Hobbs before joining Reardon’s staff.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org.