The Public Disclosure Commission today dismissed all allegations that Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon deliberately concealed the source of payment for his participation in trade missions on behalf of Snohomish County.
A complaint, brought by a Republican officer from Snohomish in May, alleged Reardon concealed the funding source for trade missions that occurred between 2005-2009, and that he took “many trips around the world in the way of junkets at the expense of lobbyists and special interests who have business before his [Reardon’s] office.”
The allegations of concealment were dismissed by the Commission. In addition, the Commission found no evidence to support allegations that lobbyists or special interests funded any travel by Reardon.
Reardon chalked-up the allegations to election year politics. “I’ve always taken our state’s strict public disclosure laws very seriously,” Reardon said. “The Commission’s decision affirms that these outlandish allegations of concealment are false on their face.”
In addition to dismissing all allegations of concealment, the Commission also considered paperwork filing errors originally brought to their attention by Reardon in April. Commissioners noted the error was self-reported and inadvertent, and expressed appreciation for Reardon’s transparency during the process.
Under state disclosure rules, elected officials must disclose the source of payment for official travel if the source is anyone other than the government agency for whom the official works. While Reardon did public interviews and sent press releases relating to his participation in a 2009 trade mission and its sponsors, the Greater Seattle Chamber and the Trade Development Alliance, paperwork filed with the Commission did not properly address the mission.
In April, Reardon discovered the error in his filing for 2009 and brought it to the attention of the Commission by filing an amended report. In addition, Reardon reported a correction to include travel related to being chair of Sound Transit. The complaint to the Commission in May alleged deliberate concealment, a violation of state law, and also noted one of the same paperwork errors identified by Reardon.
While the Commission dismissed the broader complaints of concealment, they did cite Reardon for inadvertently filing his paperwork for 2009 incorrectly. Reardon will be required to pay a $250 fine for the inadvertent error.
Reardon acknowledged the need to amend the forms, and did not object to the fine. “The decision of the Commission is fair and reasonable,” Reardon said. “While the paperwork was fixed two months ago, their decision today puts the issue to rest.”