Thomas Swankosy remembers the day in the summer of 2006 when a tall, fit, blonde woman came into the Major League Pizza restaurant in Smokey Point, Wash. crying and reading a stack of letters. That woman, he and several others now say, was Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon's mistress.
This information appears to dovetail with details from an ongoing investigation by the Washington State Patrol into Reardon's use of public funds.
On Wednesday the Everett Herald published a story noting the current investigation into Reardon that was launched by the Washington State Patrol. The article cites an unnamed county employee who feels threatened by Reardon, saying she thinks he "could do her harm."
The story also cites the woman's worries over a "letter that she threw away in Smokey Point."
Late Wednesday (after I had finished this piece and scheduled it for the morning) The Seattle Times ran a piece on the affair, but did not name Dutton, seemingly because she had agreed to talk to them.
The Times did get the woman on the record saying that Snohomish County money was indeed used to finance several trips he took her on where he supposedly did little more than sit around wasting time.
Besides naming the woman (which Hope and others have been happy to do), Hope also sent us these photos he says are of her.
On Mr. Reardon's campaign webpage he has the following photo of he and his wife Kate and their two children, along with the caption "Hometown Values."
Hope says that the issues at stake are more than whether Mr. Reardon is having an affair, but also whether he's using taxpayer money to support or cover up that affair--a claim that Dutton reportedly says is true.
"There was a workout partner of Aaron Reardon that approached our campaign and said we should follow up on expenses by Reardon," Hope tells Seattle Weekly. "We had heard all summer that Aaron Reardon was rumored to have many affairs. We don't really care about Aaron's personal life, but we were concerned that there was taxpayer money being used to support these relationships."
Dutton, a bodybuilder and former employee at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett who now works at the Snohomish County Human Services Department, did not return calls seeking comment.
The Washington State Patrol, meanwhile, which has been extremely tight lipped about the investigation, seemed to unwittingly confirm Dutton's involvement. When reached by phone yesterday by Seattle Weekly, WSP Spokesman Bob Calkins was asked if the name Tamara Dutton rang a bell. "You mean in the Aaron Reardon case?" he asked, unprompted, before explaining that he couldn't comment.
In 2004, according to the above-named sources, Dutton and two other women sued Snohomish County for sexual harassment. One of Dutton's former managers at Denney Juvenile Justice Center was supposedly set to testify, and considered spilling the beans about the illicit affair between her and Reardon. But before that could happen the case was quietly settled, and no one ever had to talk about what happened on the record.
Reardon and his staff did not return calls seeking comment.
"I Could Ruin You"
Swankosy vividly remembers the time he saw Dutton.
"We were all sitting around and we saw this blonde woman outside, we saw her crying and tearing up papers and throwing them in the trash," he says. "We thought she's obviously mad at someone. So after she threw the letters away we took them out and I spent the night taping them back together."
Asked what the letters said, Swankosy explains:
"They were love letters and some were breakup letters between this Tammy woman and Aaron Reardon...She wrote that she could ruin his marriage and ruin his chances of ever being an elected official again. She was saying things like 'how could you do this to me?' and 'I could ruin you.'"
At the time Swankosy says he told the Everett Herald and other newspapers about the letters but got no interest. Over the years he says he lost track of the documents.
Blair Anderson, Hope's former treasurer who now works at a building firm in Texas, says that in 2007 he got a call from a different friend who worked at Major League Pizza about those same letters. Anderson says this friend echoed Swankosy's story about the blonde woman and the love/breakup notes, and because at the time he was in frequent contact with Reardon through his job lobbying the county for building contracts, he says he told Reardon about the letters.
"Aaron didn't deny anything," Anderson says. "He was very interested in where those letters were and what they said. But he never denied anything that was in them."
Andy Hansen, the owner of Major League Pizza, which has since moved to Everett, confirms that his employees had the letters, but says he had no interest in seeing them.
To be sure, none of these accusations have been proven in court or even publicly alleged by prosecutors. And normally, this lack of info might make for good gossip, but little else--indeed it's been frequent gossip among people who follow Reardon.
In this case, however, with multiple sources on the record naming names, the WSP appearing to confirm the involvement of Ms. Dutton, the Times anonymously confirming the info, and notes from an investigation corroborating specific details of the sources' stories, it's clear that, at the very least, these accusations have more than enough merit for residents of Snohomish county and Washington state as a whole to know about.