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Originally published Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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46th District candidate Scott White violated ethics code

The King County Ombudsman's Office said 46th Legislative District candidate Scott White broke ethics rules by using county equipment for campaign purposes.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Legislative candidate Scott White said he's no "technophile," but he now knows he shouldn't have synced his personal digital assistant with his King County work computer while he was running for office.

A complaint that White improperly used county equipment led to a King County Ombudsman's Office ruling Wednesday that White violated county ethics rules that bar the use of public resources for political campaigns.

During an extensive investigation, the ombudsman went so far as to pay an outside investigator $6,000 to check out White's story that a bug in his Treo digital assistant software may have been responsible for campaign information showing up on his county hard drive.

The county investigator said there is no evidence to back up that claim.

The ombudsman's office said White broke the ethics rules by sending one campaign-related fax from a county fax machine, recording 12 campaign events on his work calendar and opening 11 campaign-related files on his county-owned computer.

The report is the latest turn in what has been an ugly and hard-fought race between two Democrats — White, who worked at the county Department of Transportation, and environmental activist Gerry Pollet — in North Seattle's 46th District.

A series of major disagreements have erupted since the race began to pick up steam last spring.

In May, a dispute over a district committee endorsement vote required mediation from the state party. White lost the initial vote, but claimed victory when a ballot-counter said he found another vote for White after returning home.

In June, the candidates went to court to determine whether a fax that would have canceled White's candidacy arrived at the county elections office at 4:29 or 4:30. A Superior Court judge dismissed the complaint, filed by Pollet, and White stayed in the race.

In the latest investigation, the county ombudsman looked into several allegations by an anonymous complainant in July and determined three of them were valid. White acknowledges he sent the fax but said he paid the county office $1.50 to do it. And he said he didn't work on his campaign at his office.

"I believe that these are minor and technical in nature," said White, who left his county job in August. "I apologize for any appearance of impropriety."

Pollet seized on the report, saying, "White's use of county taxpayer resources for his political campaign was morally wrong and illegal. He should be apologizing to county taxpayers."

White can appeal the findings. The ombudsman's report will be forwarded to the county ethics board and the King County Prosecutor's Office, which will decide whether further action is warranted.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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