The collapse of integrity

The collapse of accountability and integrity in the office of County Executive Aaron Reardon does violence to the public trust.

Legislative aide Kevin Hulten, the operative behind the online harassment and surveillance of Reardon’s real or perceived enemies, continues to work and draw a county salary. Aide Jon Rudicil, who also participated in the ruse, remains at his desk. In Reardon’s office, consequences don’t seem to follow indefensible conduct.

As The Herald’s Scott North and Noah Haglund reported Monday, Hulten is not only on the job but is seeking “whistle blower” protection, demanding an investigation of county prosecutors. Hulten is the consummate example of someone seizing a law conceived in the public interest to sidestep accountability (see “collapse of integrity,” above.)

Reardon was more expansive last Thursday, calling for an investigation of misconduct by “other Snohomish County government officials.” Pray tell, who are these bad guys? Fill in the dreamed-up blank. Reardon, still a public official, doesn’t make himself available for interviews. Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe offered insight as he tried to explain the latest Hulten puzzle. “I’m not sure you need a law degree to figure this one out,” he said.

Maybe not a law degree, but a love of history is instructive. Paranoid politicos have their antecedents.

Sixty years ago, the late Erna Miller, a Congressional secretary and Everett native, sat in the audience during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. It was a primer on the abuse of power, on the twisting of institutions and privileges for political advantage. For years, Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy trafficked in groundless accusations; then the senator pointed his finger at the Army. Army counsel John G. Adams recounted how McCarthy aide Roy Cohn had threatened to “wreck the Army.”

“We will start investigations,” Cohn said to Adams. “We have enough stuff on the Army to keep investigations going indefinitely, and if anything like such-and-such double-cross occurs, that is what we will do.”

At last McCarthy had crossed the gut-check line and outrage reached critical mass. Consistent with human nature, some things never change.

The county executive could side with right action and take responsibility. He could fire Hulten and Rudicil or, in the very least, put them on administrative leave and at a remove from public documents. The absence of trust is why the County Council passed an emergency ordinance last week to pull the Department of Information Services from the exec’s office.

When a vanquished Reardon announced his May resignation last Thursday, he said, “Enough is enough.” Apparently, for Reardon and company, it’s not.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Monday, Oct. 23

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: Can we please keep a civil tongue?

A recent EdCC forum asked panelists: Are you alarmed at the tone and tenor of civic discourse today?

Simoneaux: Our better angels have them outnumbered

You wouldn’t know it listening to some in news and politics, but there are good people out there.

Parker: What we needed to hear from a Republican president

It’s just too bad it wasn’t Trump speaking. Instead, he was being spoken to.

Everett mayoral race: Franklin best on homelessness issue

Regarding the Oct. 8, 2017 letter concerning the Everett mayoral election, I… Continue reading

Some limits would stem nation’s bloodshed from guns

Words can’t quantify or describe the horror of what unfolded in Las… Continue reading

Changes in culture explain recent shootings

Why? Why did he do it? They all ask about the Las… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Oct. 22

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Viewpoints: Gun control and the Founding Fathers

Laws regarding gun registration, public carry and more were around long before the Second Amendment.

Most Read