Reardon receives minor fine for public disclosure violations

  • By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
  • Thursday, June 23, 2011 2:30pm
  • Local News

OLYMPIA — The state Public Disclosure Commission issued Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon a minor fine Thursday for failing to properly disclose some details about out-of-town trips, but cleared him of any deliberate attempt to conceal who paid for them.

Four commissioners voted unanimously to fine Reardon $750, with $500 of the amount suspended. The violations involved failing to report 2009 trips to the United Arab Emirates and Washington, D.C., that were paid for by outside groups. The trips should have been included in personal financial disclosure forms –F1s– that elected officials must turn in every year, the commission found.

“There was full transparency and full disclosure,” Reardon told the commissioners during the meeting.

To watch a webcast of the hearing, go here.

The maximum possible fine was $4,200, PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said.

The investigation began after Becky Harper, a Republican precinct committee officer in the 44th Legislative District, filed a complaint on April 18. The PDC in May began investigating her allegations that Reardon had not disclosed out-of-town trips paid for by outside groups in 2009.

Staff found no violations for other trips between 2005 and 2008 listed on the complaint because they were paid by the county.

The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce paid $7,780 for Reardon’s travel and entertainment in United Arab Emirates from March 4 to March 19, 2009. That was part of a trade mission that Reardon co-led.

Reardon also received $575 in travel and entertainment from Washington, D.C., consulting firm CG/LA Infrastructure for a September 22-24, 2009 trip to the nation’s capital. That trip was not part of the original complaint; Reardon reported it April 22 after reviewing his records.

In his letter responding to the complaint, Reardon told the commission he made no attempts to conceal the trips. As evidence, he provided news stories in which he was interviewed, and press releases from his office.

“We feel that it was inadvertently left out,” PDC director of compliance Philip Stutzman said during the meeting.

State disclosure rules require Snohomish County’s elected leaders to document trips paid by a source other than the county. Reardon later filed a corrected financial disclosure form.

The commission also is investigating a complaint against Reardon’s opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens. That complaint alleges that Hope, a Seattle police officer, improperly used a police uniform in campaign materials. He’s denied any wrongdoing, and argued a similar past complaint has been ruled unfounded.

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

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