Snohomish County Executive Race Gets Ugly: Spending Complaints Filed, "Slime-Ball Politics" Alleged

With about four months to go before Snohomish County's general election, things are already getting nasty at the top of the ticket. Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon (D) is fending off ambitious state Rep. Mike Hope (R), who wants his job, in a race that's topping the county's charts in terms of money raised.

And money--particularly, whether public and/or campaign money has been correctly spent and accounted for--is now at the center of some vicious sniping and bold accusations from both candidates.

The dust-up comes to our attention as a new formal investigation by the state's Public Disclosure Commission into Hope's campaign-financing efforts begins.

Back in March, I wrote about a different investigation into Hope's 2010 campaign--then by the Seattle Police Department--into his use of an SPD uniform (Hope's a cop) in campaign ads.

Rep. Mike Hope says County Exec. Aaron Reardon is a "master of slime-ball politics."
The new investigation stems from a complaint lodged by the Olympia-based Evergreen Law Group (attorney Bill Ferrell, to be precise), and it deals with whether the representative failed to disclose several trips to Spokane in his campaign's financial filings. The complaint also alleges that Hope's nonprofit group 100 Ideas is just a front organization used to rake in undisclosed cash for his election efforts.

Meanwhile, another investigation by the PDC recently wrapped up against Reardon, with the commission actually ruling that the county exec had violated disclosure rules during trips to the United Arab Emirates and Washington, D.C., and fined him $750.

Hope, in addition to drawing attention to his opponent's sustained, albeit minor, violation, also accuses Reardon of using taxpayer money to "party" in Europe during trade missions to France, Ireland, and Australia--an accusation Reardon calls "reckless, irresponsible, and offensive."

Hope not only says Reardon was misusing tax money, he says that the new PDC complaint filed against himself is actually the work of Reardon, a "retaliation" for pointing out Reardon's own filing missteps.

"It's slime-ball politics at its worst," says Hope. "Aaron is the master of slime-ball politics. The bogus, freak-show attorney filing complaints on me is ridiculous. There's been six or seven PDC complaints against me in past, not one been sustained. This will get dismissed."

Hope also penned two lengthy responses to the PDC complaints against his campaign and his nonprofit, which he says he plans to send to the commission today, and which can be read in full here and here.

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Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon says Rep. Mike Hope's campaign is "circling the drain."
Reardon says he hasn't even heard of the latest PDC complaint against Hope. He claims to have nothing to do with the complaint or the lawyer that filed it. Of course he also says that the Rep's campaign is resorting to gutter politics.

"Although it's only July, his campaign is already circling the drain," Reardon of his opponent. "It's hard to believe this guy wears a badge when he just makes things up to suit himself."

As for the reasons for going to Europe on the taxpayers' dime (with Gov. Gregoire and other members of the state's Trade Development Alliance in tow), Reardon lists three reasons: "Boeing. Boeing. Boeing."

Reardon also says he has itemized proof that every dime spent in Europe (Hope provided documents showing about $30,000 spent--Reardon says that number's too high) was spent on state-related business. Reardon takes extreme issue with Hope's accusation that he was in Europe "partying."

Frankly, the whole "he-said-he-said" thing is a tad hard to follow, and more than a tad childish.

Whether there's any merit to the potentially important accusations of money mismanagement, we're not sure just yet. But we will be once some more information is collected.

In the meantime we're left with a whole lot of barking, but little in the way of biting.

Not to say the dog fight isn't worth watching.

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