Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon dramatically cut his county cellphone use after an investigation began last year into his use of public funds.
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon dramatically cut back the amount of time he spent on his taxpayer-funded cellphone after the Washington State Patrol began investigating his use of public funds last year.
The investigation did not result in charges.
Before the investigation began last October, Reardon, a Democrat, routinely used his county phone to talk to his wife, friends, alleged mistress and campaign staff and to people who gave money to his campaign. His phone bills showed that personal phone conversations sometimes lasted for hours during the workday.
But that changed almost as soon as investigators and media started requesting thousands of pages of Reardon’s cellphone bills, receipts, emails and calendar pages, according to records released from his office this week. Between November of last year and April 2012, he used his taxpayer-paid phone mostly to dial county extensions or the cellphones of his own staff members.
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In the first 10 months of 2011, Reardon went over his 1,000 allotted daytime minutes nine times. In June 2011, he spent more than 5,000 minutes on his county cellphone, including 1,688 minutes for which he was charged 25 cents a minute because they exceeded his limit. (Some calls, on nights and weekends and to certain numbers, were free.) The resulting $422 charge was partially covered by the county’s pooled-minutes plan.
But between November 2011 and April 2012, Reardon didn’t exceed his number of minutes once. For example, in February, he spent a total of 821 minutes on his county phone. In March, 369.
Reardon was cleared of criminal wrongdoing last week by Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks, but he still faces an investigation into his campaign practices by the state Public Disclosure Commission, as well as a recall petition.
A Snohomish County Superior Court judge will decide if the petition is valid. If it is, its sponsor, a Gold Bar attorney, will have 180 days to collect about 47,000 signatures to place the recall on the ballot.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.