A state audit of Snohomish County came back clean, but state Auditor Brian Sonntag says the county's travel records are problematic.
A routine state audit of Snohomish County’s books came back clean, but State Auditor Brian Sonntag said the county’s records policies caused “frustration” for the state’s auditors and others involved in a criminal investigation of the Snohomish County executive.
Thursday’s release of the state’s audit marks the fifth year of glowing audits for Snohomish County. Because of a continuing criminal investigation into Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s travel, auditors this year looked closely at travel receipts and credit-card use at the county. They said they found nothing amiss.
In February, Mindy Chambers, spokeswoman for the Auditor’s Office, told The Seattle Times that the county’s records were “in disarray.” On Thursday, Sonntag said Chambers was expressing frustration about how the county keeps its travel-expense records.
The records don’t shed much light on what Reardon did on his out-of-town trips because he collected a “per diem” for expenses and, in most cases, did not turn in receipts.
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Sonntag said he found no fault with the county’s finance workers — they followed their own policies and did nothing wrong.
“They were following the county’s own records policies but that doesn’t mean there were good records to look at,” he said.
The Washington State Patrol is investigating a county employee’s claim that she had an affair with Reardon and met him at hotels while he was out-of-town on county-paid trips. She also said she met him locally when he was supposed to be working.
Snohomish County officials had hoped the release of its annual audit would clear up any questions about its record-keeping. Snohomish County Finance Director Roger Neumaier said he was pleased with the state’s audit.
In response to Sonntag’s comments, Deputy County Executive Gary Haakenson said: “All county records were in order, and this was our fifth straight clean accountability audit.”
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.