Timeline: Aaron Reardon, Snohomish County executive

Following his announcement Thursday that he will resign in May, here’s an overview of Aaron Reardon’s time as Snohomish County executive.

June 2, 2003

Democrat Aaron Reardon, a newly minted state senator, announces plans to run for Snohomish County executive. He’d previously served two terms in the state House of Representatives.

Jan. 1, 2004

Triumphing first against fellow Democrat Kevin Quigley in the primary and then Republican Dave Earling, Reardon wins the executive job. At 33, he becomes the youngest county executive in the nation and the third person to hold that job in county history.

July 7, 2005

Reardon spends his initial months in office dancing with and ultimately spurning people interested in locating a NASCAR track near Arlington. He also ruffles feathers of other county elected leaders by claiming he saved the county from a budget crisis they insist was a figment of his immagination. Reardon replaces Deputy Executive Gary Weikel, a longtime stalwart of county government, with Mark Soine, former city attorney in Everett.

Nov. 14, 2005

The County Council publicly questions Reardon’s plan for an office remodel, suggesting the $865,000 pricetag is too high.

Feb. 8, 2006

Efforts to create a county Department of Emergency Management hit a snag when a deadline is missed for filing paperwork and the county is told it is no longer eligible for a $1 million grant. The county ultimately gets the money, but Reardon and Soine are criticized for failing to pay attention to details.

April 21, 2006

Clerks in the county courts threaten to stop working in protest of Reardon’s refusal to negotiate with their union. The clerks earlier had broken ties with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which had backed Reardon in a big way. Formal complaints lead a state labor panel to find that Reardon’s office broke the law by deliberately delaying negotiations.

April 19, 2006

The County Council strips Reardon of his authority to sign contracts above $5,000 after his office for a month ignores questions about how much the executive wants to spend on the Boeing 787 rollout party. Council members say the flap is about fiscal oversight. Reardon’s office positions the debate as a showdown over separation of powers. He loses.

June 25, 2006

The Herald profiles Reardon two years into his first term. Leaders give him high marks for energy and recall of data, but some say he is driven more by blind political ambition than public service. Rick Bart, then sheriff, dismisses Reardon as an “arrogant son-of-a-bitch.”

Who is Aaron Reardon? (The Herald)

Jan. 1, 2008

Reardon begins his second term as county executive, having won 65 percent of the vote in an election that pitted him against Republican Jack Turk, a former Microsoft executive and magician who had never held public office.

June 9, 2008

Reardon and other county leaders make a point of trying to bridge the rift, meeting regularly to talk about challenges. The council is so pleased with progress it votes 5-0 to restore Reardon’s authority to sign checks for up to $50,000.

Nov. 11, 2008

The County Council votes to put the jail, a source of overtime cost overruns, labor strife and management headaches, under the control of the sheriff instead of Reardon.

March 21, 2009

The recession catches up with the county as home construction slows and revenues decline. After approving a budget just months earlier that shed more than 150 jobs, Reardon meets with worried county staff and tells them, “My No. 1 priority right now is not to lay anybody off.” It doesn’t work out that way. Meanwhile, relations grow sour again between Reardon and other leaders, who complain they aren’t getting reliable information from the executive.

June 24, 2009

Craig Ladiser, then county planning director, gets drunk at a building industry golf tournament and commits a sexually motivated assault on a woman who worked as a business lobbyist. Reardon’s office allows him to go into treatment. Meanwhile, the woman’s employer pressures her to keep quiet. She refuses and demands that Reardon explain why Ladiser is still on the payroll. He’s ultimately fired and charged and convicted of the assault. Reardon’s office, meanwhile, spends nearly a year delaying the release of records that demonstrate that some at the county knew what Ladiser had done when he was allowed to go into treatment.

County official fired after being accused of lewd act (The Herald)

Ladiser pleads guilty in drunken golf course incident (The Herald)

Reardon’s office kept quiet on ‘damage control’ over sex allegation (The Herald)

Sept. 23, 2009

Reardon raises eyebrows when he appears in a promotional video for an energy drink made from seaweed. The YouTube video spot features Reardon, flanked by the U.S., Washington and Snohomish County flags, pitching products for Bellevue-based Sea2o Inc. The ad was soon pulled down.

Reardon touts energy drink in online video (The Herald)

Jan. 31, 2010

Questions about Reardon’s management of key departments prompts the County Council to order reviews of the county’s Technology Department and the office that handles review of workplace harassment and discrimination complaints.

Feb. 27, 2010

Deputy Executive Mark Soine resigns after a consultant finds a pattern of sloppy investigations and little paperwork in workplace harassment complaints. The review found that county employees routinely waited months — even years — to hear back about their concerns while problems went unaddressed. Records also show that Soine ordered executive office staff to begin investigating County Councilman Brian Sullivan’s work history with the county after the councilman made statements that offended Reardon.

County official resigns on day lawsuit alleges lapses (The Herald)

County executive’s office scrutinizes council member after criticism (The Herald)

June 2, 2010

Reardon taps Gary Haakenson, then mayor of Edmonds, to be deputy executive. A former businessman and seasoned government manager, Haakenson, a Republican, gets high marks among county leaders for focusing on the day-to-day work of running county government and keeping clear of the politics.

Haakenson trading political challenges in move to county executive assistant (The Herald)

June 24, 2010

The County Council seeks a probe of the county medical examiner’s office after questions are raised about how bodies are treated during autopsies and how the office is managed. Investigations also are ordered in public works.

August 29, 2010

Republicans make clear they will mount a strong effort in the 2011 race for county executive. State Rep. Mike Hope says he is interested in making a run and will focus on Reardon management lapses. The county continues to struggle as the economy flags.

Feb. 10, 2011

Reardon uses his state-of-the-county address to announce a bottled water plant soon would be coming to Everett. He cites the project was an example of how his government’s work to create jobs. The project was news to the city, who owned the water, as well as the Port of Everett, who owned the land. The proposal still hasn’t happened and the Reardon staffer pushed the project left the county to take a job with one of the backers, a partner in the Sea20 energy drink company.

New water bottling plant coming to Everett (The Herald)

Months later, water bottling plant remains only an idea

Sept. 28, 2011

Hope accuses Reardon staffer Kevin Hulten of digging for dirt. Both Hulten and Reardon deny the claim. Meanwhile, records that Hulten obtains about Hope wind up in campaign hit ads.

County executive candidate questions source of complaint (The Herald)

The tangled Web behind the Hope-Reardon tiff (The Herald)

Nov. 3, 2011

The Washington State Patrol confirms rumors of an investigation into Reardon’s travel using public money. Reardon calls a press conference to insist he is the victim of a political smear. Few details are released.

State Patrol investigating County Executive Aaron Reardon (The Herald)

Nov. 8, 2011

Reardon wins a third four-year term, defeating his general election opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens.

Reardon coasting past Hope in race for county executive (The Herald)

Nov. 15, 2011

Records obtained by The Herald show the investigation began in late October after a female county employee went to the County Council chairman. She claimed to fear Reardon.

Whistle-blower fears County Executive Aaron Reardon, newly released notes say (The Herald)

Nov. 16, 2011

The woman, Tami Dutton, decides to speak with The Seattle Times. She alleges that Reardon, who is married, took her on county business trips as part of a long-running affair. She is not named in the story.

Reardon used county trips for affair, employee says (The Seattle Times)

Nov. 17, 2011

Seattle Weekly names Dutton and publishes information from people who claim to have found evidence of an affair. Dutton and Reardon had been romantically linked for months on a website that popped up during the political campaign. Records show the State Patrol seeking three years of Reardon records.

Reardon spent money on ‘secret mistress’ (Seattle Weekly)

3 years of county executive’s records sought (The Herald)

Nov. 18, 2011

Reardon leaves town after the election, reportedly to go rock climbing in Southern California, where he owns a second home. While still on vacation, he sends an email to The Herald denying misconduct but ignoring questions about his relationship with Dutton.

Aaron Reardon denies misconduct but otherwise stays silent (The Herald)

Dec. 3, 2011

Records for Reardon’s county-issued cellphone become public as part of the State Patrol investigation. They show Reardon making hundreds of calls to his campaign staff, in violation of campaign laws. Reardon insists there is no wrongdoing.

Aaron Reardon used county phone for campaign-related calls, records suggest (The Herald)

Dec. 6, 2011

Close examination of nearly 10,000 calls and text messages in 2011 show repeated contact between Reardon and Dutton. A Herald analysis also shows that 20 percent of Reardon’s calls in 2011 were to members of his political campaign.

Phone records link Reardon to woman who claims affair (The Herald)

Feb. 14, 2012

Dutton provides KING-TV an on-camera interview about her relationship with Reardon. She also provides The Seattle Times with records the newspaper says further support her claims of Reardon using public money to advance an affair that began in 2005.

Woman details six-year affair with Aaron Reardon (The Seattle Times)

Woman behind alleged affair with Snohomish Co. Executive speaks (KING-TV)

Feb. 15, 2012

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.

Aaron Reardon used public resources to raise campaign cash, records show (The Herald)

Feb. 17, 2012

When President Barack Obama flew in to the county airport at Paine Field for a visit to the Boeing Co. plant, Reardon was noticeably missing among those who gathered at the stairs descending from Air Force One. Reardon said he could have been among the greeting party, but arrived after the assigned check-in time. The explanation didn’t stop speculation the executive really had been snubbed on his home turf.

Was Reardon snubbed at presidential receiving line, or just late? (The Herald)

Feb. 22, 2012

The County Council votes 4-0 to urge Reardon to voluntarily place himself on leave. Reardon posts a video, saying that he’s staying put.

Next move is Aaron Reardon’s to make as council asks him to take leave (The Herald)

Feb. 23, 2012

Reardon aide Kevin Hulten writes all the way to the governor’s office to complain about the patrol’s investigation of his boss.

Aide to Aaron Reardon critical of State Patrol probe (The Herald)

March 1, 2012

The state Public Disclosure Commission considers launching its own investigation of Reardon’s campaign activities once state troopers wrap up their criminal probe. (That investigation is now in progress.)

State elections agency may investigate Aaron Reardon but will wait for State Patrol report (The Herald)

March 13, 2012

Another woman tells The Seattle Times she had sex with Reardon during the work day.

2nd woman tells of liaison with Reardon during work hours (The Seattle Times)

May 4, 2012

Detectives send Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks their case report. Neither Reardon nor Hulten make themselves available for detectives’ interviews. Banks warns his review will take time because the file is more than 13,500 pages.

Reardon probe forwarded to prosecutor (The Herald)

No timetable set on Reardon probe (The Herald)

May 6, 2012

Records show Hulten frequently commingled his time and office resources with campaign-related activities that supported Reardon.

County staffer delivered dirt to Reardon campaign (The Herald)

June 13, 2012

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks says there is insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Reardon.

Reardon ‘exonerated,’ his lawyer says (The Herald)

June 22, 2012

A war of words erupts between Reardon and the County Council over how long to extend Snohomish County’s $20-million-per-year solid-waste contract. Both sides accuse the other of dragging their feet, for no good reason. The council rejects Reardon’s complaints and moves forward.

County Council endorses multi-year garbage contract (The Herald)

July 30, 2012

“Edmond Thomas” uses public records requests to obtain documents about nearly 20 people in county government, most of whom cooperated in the State Patrol investigation.

Aug. 9, 2012

An attempt to recall Reardon by Gold Bar blogger Anne Block is dismissed. Meanwhile, she files a records request focusing on Hulten. The next day, somebody begins work on a Wikipedia attack page on Block.

Judge throws out Reardon recall petition (The Herald)

Feb. 14, 2013

A Herald investigation links Hulten and another member of Reardon’s staff, Jon Rudicil, to a campaign of online harassment and cloaked records requests made against Reardon’s politicial rivals. Many of those targeted were interviewed in the State Patrol’s investigation. (Reardon and Hulten were never interviewed by troopers.) Harassing witnesses in criminal investigations is against the law.

Online attacks linked to Reardon staff may face probe (The Herald)

Labyrinth: Reardon staff linked to harassment, surveillance (The Herald)

Feb. 16, 2013

County Prosecutor Mark Roe seeks independent criminal investigation of Reardon staff’s conduct reported in The Herald.

Prosecutor seeks investigation of attack campaign (The Herald)

Feb. 20, 2013

County Council unanimously votes to take away Reardon staff’s control of the county’s information systems in order to preserve and protect the county’s electronic records.

Council strips Reardon of control over tech operations (The Herald)

Feb. 21, 2013

Reardon announces his resignation, effective May 31, while providing his 10th state of the county address.

Reardon will resign, effective at end of May (The Herald)

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