Hearing to rule if Reardon recall petition can proceed

EVERETT — A judge is scheduled to rule next month on whether a Gold Bar activist’s recall petition targeting Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon can move ahead to the signature-gathering phase.

A hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court is currently set for 9:30 a.m. July 10, Jason Cummings, the county’s chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney, said Wednesday.

The judge’s job will be to decide whether the petition meets state recall requirements. That includes specifying improper or illegal acts in office allegedly committed by Reardon. The judge’s decision is unrelated to whether the charges are true.

Anne Block, an attorney who also maintains a political blog, filed her petition June 15 with the county Auditor’s Office. The paperwork accuses Reardon of breaking state campaign laws by using his executive assistant and other public resources for political fundraising and lobbying.

Reardon, a Democrat, is in his third term in office after beating his Republican challenger, state Rep. Mike Hope, in November by nearly 11 percentage points.

Reardon, 41, had been under investigation by the Washington State Patrol since October for alleged misuse of public resources while on out-of-state business trips. Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks announced earlier this month that there was insufficient evidence to charge Reardon with any crime. The investigation focused narrowly on a single trip to Chicago in 2010. In the end, detectives identified only $6 in questionable spending related to a cab fare.

Reardon now is the focus of a state Public Disclosure Commission investigation into whether he repeatedly violated state campaign laws. Block also filed a complaint with the PDC.

A Herald analysis of campaign and office records shows Reardon spent 2011 making extensive use of taxpayer resources, including dialing for dollars on his government cellphone during periods when his schedule and emails show him arranging “in office” meetings with his campaign fundraising consultant.

If the judge allows the recall petition to go forward, Block will have 180 days to collect 47,444 signatures from the county’s registered voters. Under state law, the number of required signatures is 25 percent of the 189,776 votes cast in last year’s general election for the county executive race.

If enough valid signatures are collected, the county auditor would set a date for a recall election.

A Kirkland man’s attempt to start a recall effort against Reardon earlier this year ended when county attorneys declined to process his petition because he lives outside Snohomish County.

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

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