Bailey Stober will receive about four months of severance pay in exchange for promising not to sue the county, according to the settlement agreement that said he was resigning from the $98,000-a-year job "in lieu of termination."
King County Assessor John Wilson’s office will pay a $37,700 settlement to Bailey Stober, the ex-chair of the King County Democrats, who resigned Monday as Wilson’s communications director amid misconduct findings related to his party-chair role.
As part of a separation agreement, Stober will receive the payment — equivalent to about four months of severance pay — in exchange for promising not to sue the county, according to a copy of the settlement agreement released by Wilson’s office Tuesday. The agreement said Stober was resigning from the $98,000-a-year job “in lieu of termination.”
Stober had already resigned his unpaid party position earlier this month after an internal party investigation culminated in an all-day, trial-like proceeding that found he’d created a hostile work environment and inappropriately fired the party’s former executive director, Natalia Koss Vallejo.
The resignation from the assessor’s office came after a private attorney hired by the county delivered a 29-page report finding Stober, as chair of the county Democrats, had mistreated Koss Vallejo.
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The report, by Seattle attorney Patty Eakes, found Stober used “derogatory language” toward Koss Vallejo, including calling her a “bitch.”
The report stated: “To a certain extent, as we were told by multiple witnesses, the term ‘bitch’ can be viewed as ‘millennial language,’ ” and Koss Vallejo told investigators the term did not offend her. Still, Eakes’ report noted that Stober was Koss Vallejo’s boss and referring to an employee that way is inappropriate.
Relying on 23 witness interviews and other documentation, the report also criticized other instances of Stober’s “juvenile behavior,” the frequency of after-work social events and “the amount of alcohol consumed at these events.”
The report, which cost the county $25,360, also said Stober had “a pattern of using inappropriate and/or derogatory language” toward men and women involved in the Democratic Party, including misogynistic references to “a senior state party officer” with whom he had “political animosity.”
Eakes’ report said she did not find factual support for allegations that Stober had fired Koss Vallejo for retaliatory reasons, or that he drank alcohol during the day and then returned to do Democratic Party work.
In his resignation letter to Wilson, first reported by Seattle journalist Erica Barnett, Stober said he was leaving “with mixed emotions” and highlighted his accomplishments at the assessor’s office, including promoting the office through “a record high” number of media interviews. He thanked Wilson for allowing him to manage the assessor’s election campaign, and for the communications job.
In a text message to The Seattle Times, Stober said, “I believe we’ve done a lot of good work to increase transparency around taxes and advocate for taxpayers.” He added that he’d “never violated any county policies” but that it was in “the best interest of the assessor and myself for us both to move on.”
In a statement, Wilson’s office noted the Eakes report found no misconduct by Stober in his official duties for the county.
“However, King County determined that recent conduct and events made it so Mr. Stober could not continue in his role at the Department of Assessments,” said the statement provided by chief deputy assessor Al Dams. “King County believes that Mr. Stober’s resignation and this separation agreement allows the Department of Assessments to move forward from this matter and that it will protect King County and King County taxpayers from the possibility of a lengthy and costly lawsuit.”
The settlement agreement with Stober also limited what the assessor’s office could tell any prospective employers about him, specifying a list of his job responsibilities and noting that he had received “multiple positive performance appraisals.” The agreed-to script includes no references to the misconduct allegations and findings related to his Democratic Party position.