Patty Eakes, a partner with the law firm Calfo, Eakes and Ostrovsky, will investigate allegations against King County Democrats' Chair Bailey Stober, and will be paid between $7,000 and $10,000 by the King County Assessor's Office.
King County Assessor John Wilson’s office has hired a private attorney to conduct a “fact-finding mission” on allegations of harassment against Bailey Stober, chair of the King County Democrats, who also works for the assessor.
Patty Eakes, a partner with the law firm Calfo, Eakes and Ostrovsky, will do the work, which is expected to cost between $7,000 and $10,000, according to Al Dams, chief deputy assessor. A copy of the county contract was not immediately available Tuesday evening; Eakes charged the city of Seattle $325-an-hour in a 2016 contract.
In his volunteer role as chair of the county Democrats, Stober is accused of “harassment, intimidation and creation of a hostile work environment,” according to a memo by three vice chairs of the local party organization, who called for his resignation last month.
Stober says the allegations are false and has fought to hang on to his leadership position. He and his supporters have criticized the initial investigation by the party vice chairs as unfair and even farcical, and complained that it was leaked to the media.
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The accusations against Stober largely involved his alleged treatment of the party’s former executive director, Natalia Koss Vallejo, whom Stober fired earlier this year, citing video of her dumping a beverage on a car in Bellingham. The memo from the party vice-chairs said Stober repeatedly called Koss Vallejo derogatory names and used offensive and sexist insults when she declined to go out drinking with him. The memo also alleged Stober had spent money on hotel rooms and food unnecessarily.
No such allegations have been lodged against Stober in his job as communications director for the assessor’s office, according to Dams. Still, Stober was placed on “nondisciplinary, paid administrative leave” from that job as of Feb. 12, according to a Feb. 18 letter from Wilson to Stober, released under a public-records request.
So why spend taxpayer money examining Stober’s alleged conduct outside the assessor’s office?
“We take these kind of allegations seriously, so we want to do a comprehensive and thorough fact-finding mission to determine if it has any bearing on our office,” Dams said. He said he did not know whether Eakes’ final report would be made public.
Stober did not return a text message seeking comment Tuesday.
The brouhaha over Stober has divided the King County Democrats, who held a five-hour meeting last week in Tukwila, where they decided to appoint a panel to conduct a new investigation, with two of its five members selected by Stober, according to a report by independent Seattle journalist Erica Barnett on her website The C Is For Crank.
Two of the party vice chairs, Michael Maddux and Cat Williams, have resigned their positions since authoring their initial report on Stober. Maddux on Tuesday called the party’s steps toward a second investigation “disgusting” and questioned whether it would proceed at all.