The Everett Herald is out with a real barn-burner,>"/>
The Everett Herald is out with a real barn-burner, revealing that staff members of the Snohomish County Executive might be linked to a series of online attacks and anonymous public records requests designed to harass and conduct surveillance on Reardon's political rivals.
One of the targets is Anne Block, a take-no-prisoners blogger in Gold Bar, who has been a thorn in Reardon's ass for well over a year. Her blog, the Gold Bar Reporter, during Reardon's 2011 re-election campaign, accused him of using taxpayer money for a trip with a mistress. A month later, a county employee, Tamara Dutton, came forward to admit that she traveled with Reardon in pursuit of an affair on county trips.
Block is leading the charges to have the 42-year-old Reardon recalled. Click here to read "Mountain Meltdown," Seattle Weekly's Jan. 16 feature on the havoc this much-featured watchdog has wreaked on ever-quarrelsome Gold Bar.
Write Herald reporters Scott North and Noah Haglund:
Whoever is behind the effort has crafted a digital maze to obscure their identities. Numerous clues, including records on file with the secretary of state, point to two members of Reardon's staff: his assistant Jon Rudicil and Kevin Hulten, a legislative analyst with a history of digging up dirt in support of his boss.
The effort went beyond politics last summer with an online assault on Anne Block, a political blogger and attorney from Gold Bar. At the time, Block, who is suing the county, was trying to schedule a recall vote on Reardon. A day after she made a formal request for county records regarding Hulten's work for the executive, somebody created a Wikipedia entry about her, eventually filling it with information the site's moderators pulled down for being an attack page. Records show that whoever created the Block attack page was simultaneously developing a glowing online biography of Reardon.
Tamara Dutton says she had a six-year-long affair with Aaron Reardon
The Daily Weekly particularly enjoyed this revealing little factoid -- that The Herald "asked seven times over eight hours Wednesday, starting at 9 a.m. for Reardon to make himself available for an interview about his staff. Reardon never did. Reardon spokesman Christopher Schwarzen spent the day deflecting the newspaper's interview requests."
Anne Block, in an e-mail to the The Daily Weekly yesterday, wrote, "Finally, the real thugs are beginning to fall. Federal court here I come."
Snohomish County Council members, meanwhile, are mulling over the possibility of conducting investigative hearings into the alleged online attacks.
The paper notes that for months people have been trying to unearth the identity of somebody calling himself "Edmond Thomas," who since July has made numerous demands for public records, including phone bills, e-mails, and other records involving about 20 people who work for the county.
In the paper's rollicking sidebar with the online title, "Murky Web of Mischief" we learn from some pretty impressive sleuthing that "Edmond," while working on Reardon's behalf, had other identifies.
He built a maze, a series of blind alleys that guarded his various identities. And for a literary touch, he borrowed names from fiction: a class French novel, a Spanish mystery series and an Australian horror story.
"It appears to be retribution," said Republican County Councilman John Koster, referring to those who may have cooperated with Washington State Patrol investigators looking into the allegations of misused county money Reardon spent on the extramarital affair.
Added Koster: "You've got be asking yourself, 'Why?' What is the motivation here? What's the motivation?"
Councilman Brian Sullivan told the paper it appeared somebody has been "injecting 'Nixonian paranoia' into local government."
Late yesterday afternoon, the embattled Reardon released the following statement, which would seem to suggest Hulten decided to fall on his sword:
"Earlier today I met with Mr. Hulten and Mr. Rudicil regarding Thursday's media account. Mr. Hulten apologized to me for any distraction and embarrassment caused by the article which ran in the Everett Herald suggesting that his outside and personal activities occurred at my direction. He informed me that his actions are private and did not interfere with his official responsibilities at the county. His motivations were his own. Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue. All county staff members have the same rights as any other citizen to request and review public documents - and they frequently do. The requests referenced in today's media account are for documents that are routinely requested of public officials by members of the public and/or the media."
Reardon ends his tumultuous third and final term as executive in 2015.
We're going to miss him.