Missing text messages from Mayor Jenny Durkan. Inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Sexual misconduct accusations against a prominent Seattle chef.

The Seattle Times published a lot of investigative reporting in a busy 2021. These stories hold true to our mission of holding the powerful to account and exposing injustices. We hope you’ll spend some time with these investigations from journalists across the newsroom, listed below in chronological order.

Read all our investigative stories here and learn more about how we do investigative journalism. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating to the Investigative Journalism Fund.

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‘Special invitation only’ COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Seattle-area hospitals raise concerns of equity

Published Jan. 29, 2021 | Read the investigation »

At least three Seattle-area hospital systems offered board members or donors access to invitation-only vaccination clinics, illustrating concerns about inequitable distribution of vital doses. Hospital officials said they were trying to fill vaccine appointments quickly or test software as efficiently as possible using familiar contacts, but at least two organizations acknowledged they erred by creating an appearance of favoritism toward connected individuals. Story by Evan Bush, Mike Reicher and Sydney Brownstone.

Later: Seattle mayor calls on Washington state to ban special vaccine access to donors, route vaccines to community health clinics


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A Seattle-area sober-housing company promised respite from homelessness. Tenants found chaos.

Published March 14, 2021 | Read the investigation »

Despite troubling reports and several red flags, Damascus Homes LLC received public funding for years in the Seattle area’s fractured social services system. But once people moved in, there was almost no oversight of what happened inside. Tenants described a churn of people with drug-related or mental health issues and families moving through the homes, and police accounts show that the homes often drew first responders to reports of conflict or crisis. Story by Sydney Brownstone.

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Black newspaper delivery driver detained after Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer claims, then recants, threat to life

Published March 18, 2021 | Read the investigation »

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer triggered a massive police response in late January after confronting a Black man driving near his home, telling a 911 dispatcher the man “threatened to kill me” — an allegation he retracted upon questioning by Tacoma police. The man, who said he feared for his life, was a newspaper carrier on his regular route. Story by Lewis Kamb and Jim Brunner.

Later: Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer faces calls for resignation over confrontation with Black newspaper carrier; Troyer charged with false reporting in January confrontation with newspaper carrier

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Cops for $1,000 a day: How Seattle spends millions hiring off-duty police officers but does little to monitor their moonlighting


Published April 11, 2021 | Read the investigation »

City officials vowed but failed to reform off-duty police work. In the system left in place, SPD can’t reliably enforce its rules, an investigation found. Employers pay wildly different rates for off-duty cops. One of the biggest customers? The city itself. Story by Daniel Gilbert.

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As Pac-12 bet on rapid coronavirus tests to play football, UW debate boiled behind the scenes, records show

Published May 9, 2021 | Read the investigation »

A “game-changer” deal for rapid COVID-19 testing got Pac-12 teams back on the field in fall 2020. But behind the scenes, UW officials worried about the plan. Research shows the rapid tests caught infections, but there were trade-offs. Story by Evan Bush and Mike Reicher.

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Edouardo Jordan, acclaimed Seattle chef, accused by 15 women of sexual misconduct or unwanted touching

Published June 13, 2021 | Read the investigation »

More than two dozen people who spoke to The Seattle Times said acclaimed chef Edouardo Jordan has groped or has behaved inappropriately toward employees and other women in the Seattle restaurant industry. Jordan said he did not recall most of the alleged incidents and denied others. Story by Jackie Varriano and Asia Fields.

Later: Staff at Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan’s restaurants quits following sexual misconduct allegations; Jordan apologizes ‘unequivocally’ in response to the 15 women who accused him of sexual misconduct or unwanted touching

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Upbeat image of massive Best Starts for Kids levy doesn’t tell King County voters full story


Published July 15, 2021 | Read the investigation »

King County’s $400 million Best Starts for Kids levy has delivered an infusion of cash to groups serving vulnerable youth and families. The county has called it a success, but there’s no public evidence of whether programs funded by the levy have achieved their own goals, a Seattle Times examination found. Story by Daniel Gilbert and Dahlia Bazzaz.

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Thin blue line thickens after murder charges for Tacoma police officers in Manuel Ellis’ death

Published Aug. 15, 2021 | Read the investigation »

Historic charges filed against three Tacoma officers for the killing of Manuel Ellis have driven a rift into the community, with the Ellis family and supporters of police increasingly fearful as tensions escalate online. Story by Patrick Malone.

More from this series:

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Mayor’s office knew for months Durkan’s phone setting caused texts to vanish, emails show

Published August 20, 2021 | Read the investigation »

When the public learned in May that 10 months of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s text messages were missing, her office initially attributed the loss to an “unknown technology issue.” But officials already had known for months why the texts were gone: Durkan’s texts were set to automatically delete on a phone she started using in July 2020, shortly after racial justice protests had rocked the city, internal emails appeared to show. Story by Lewis Kamb, Daniel Beekman and Jim Brunner.


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A year after fire destroyed Malden, a grieving town slowly rebuilds

Published Sept. 5, 2021 | Read the investigation »

Rebuilding has been painfully slow since a fire bulldozed the town of Malden in 2020 and burned more than 15,000 acres in Eastern Washington. Residents still grieve their lost homes, pets and keepsakes. “It has been a damn tough year,” the mayor said. Story by Rebecca Moss.

Coming soon: a look at the accountability of utility companies in Washington wildfires

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Washington State Patrol’s hiring under fire as agency failed to diversify over decades

Published Sept. 26, 2021 | Read the investigation »

The Washington State Patrol’s psychological evaluation has disproportionately rejected candidates of color, internal data obtained by The Seattle Times and Northwest News Network shows. The patrol’s force is as vastly white in 2021 as it was in 2003, before the agency’s first Black chief took office and said diversifying the force was a priority. Story by Mike Reicher and Northwest News Network’s Austin Jenkins.

Later: Washington State Patrol replaces longtime psychologist after concerns raised over hiring bias


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Seattle Humane not living up to promises made in $30 million campaign for new complex

Published Nov. 7, 2021 | Read the investigation »

Seattle Humane promised to take in more at-risk animals and coordinate more adoptions with a new $30 million shelter in Bellevue. It’s fallen short of those promises, an investigation found. Staffers and volunteers describe a toxic work environment and chaotic policies that some say affected animals’ wellbeing. Story by Manuel Villa and Lulu Ramadan.

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Discipline delayed: Washington state struggles to stop sexual misconduct in health care, leaving patients vulnerable

Published Nov. 28, 2021 | Read the investigation »

Washington state struggles to discipline health providers for sexual misconduct, leaving future patients vulnerable to harm, a Times investigation found. In 282 cases over the past decade, the state health department took more than a year to discipline health providers accused of sexual misconduct. Story by Maddie Kornfeld and Daniel Gilbert.

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