Aaron Reardon: Voters left to weigh elected behavior and private vices
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon still faces a state review of his 2011 campaign finances after a special investigation found insufficient evidence for criminal charges.
Seattle Times Editorial
SNOHOMISH County Executive Aaron Reardon got a reprieve from the Island County Prosecutor's Office, which said it found insufficient evidence to cite him with criminal use of public resources for his re-election campaign.
Now the evidence or lack of it goes to the court of public opinion, where the jurors — the voting public — will make up their minds.
Reardon, re-elected in November, now also faces an investigation by the state Public Disclosure Commission to see if there were any statutory violations of campaign-spending rules.
These allegations all snowballed out of other personal accusations that Reardon had been involved in a six-year affair with a woman he's known since high school who was a county employee.
She said the couple had been involved in romantic liaisons during workdays and on out-of-town trips when the executive was ostensibly on county business. She also offered what was apparently a running estimate of how much Reardon had spent on their relationship from county funds.
Reardon never denied or acknowledged the alleged affair or sat down with the Washington State Patrol to explain his side of the misuse-of-funds allegations. All within his rights, on the strictest legal plane.
The political risk for Reardon is that Snohomish County voters with long memories for salacious allegations will wonder about his ultimate fidelity, trust and commitment to them. If the woman who participated in the extended affair with a married family man is to be believed, county business was an afterthought for someone who believed he could handle it all.
A public official's personal life is his own. The same rules broadly apply to business people on the road and filling in time after 6 p.m. But all these folks make choices. Sometimes poor ones.
Reardon can be stoic and silent. But in politics, allegations, arrogance and presumption have echoes. Moral judgments? Perhaps, but mostly about priorities.