By Scott North
There’s still no word whether criminal charges will be brought against Aaron Reardon, but that hasn’t stopped some from announcing what they believe is next for Snohomish County’s executive.
Is this the end of his political career or merely a speed bump?
The charging decision rests with Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks. People in Banks’ office this week said he’s continuing to review the case, which was investigated by Washington State Patrol detectives.
Regardless of what happens, it is a safe bet that a lot of people are going to be disappointed.
It’s simple mathematics.
Plenty of people don’t like Reardon. However, he’s got the job he does because thousands of folks repeatedly have supported him over the years during a dozen election contests.
Reardon’s name first appeared on a ballot in 1998, when he ran as a Democrat for an open legislative seat in the 38th District. Since then, voters in this community have marked his name as their choice on their ballots a total of 493,917 times.
Reardon landed his third term as county executive in the November general election. The 2011 election season also saw him surpass the $1 million mark for total money raised and spent on his campaigns over the past 13 years.
Much of Reardon’s campaign cash has come from Democratic Party organizations, unions, developers, lobbyists and lawyers, according to records maintained by the state Public Disclosure Commission. His contributors’ addresses skew toward King County.
Reardon spent that campaign cash among close associates.
The largest share, reported at more than $294,000 since 2002, went to TR Strategies Inc., the campaign consulting firm run by his longtime adviser Terry Thompson. Indeed, Reardon is Thompson’s second-biggest customer.
Next in line, at nearly $219,000, are the Nashville-based media gurus who prepared the award-winning campaign hit ads that targeted Reardon’s general election opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens.
Third on the list, at nearly $83,000, is Colby Underwood. The Seattle-based campaign-finance consultant helped raise nearly $400,000 for Reardon’s recent re-election bid.
Much of Reardon’s dialing for dollars occurred using government phones during time blocked out on the executive’s calendar for “in office staff meetings,” many with Underwood.
It’s against state law for elected officials to campaign using public resources. Reardon months ago stopped answering our questions when asked to explain what his own records show.
At the time, he said his working relationship with Underwood wasn’t about the campaign, but instead revolved primarily around an alternative energy project — one other county leaders said they’d never heard of.
Reardon has been an important client for Underwood. Only former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the state Democratic Central Committee have paid Underwood more than Reardon over the past decade, state campaign finance records show.