Former legislator files recall papers on Washington state auditor

By Derrick Nunnally
The Associated Press

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OLYMPIA — A former state legislator filed recall paperwork Friday afternoon against embattled state Auditor Troy Kelley, who is the subject of a federal investigation.

Will Knedlik, a disbarred attorney who served a term in the state House in the 1970s, filed papers with the secretary of state’s office accusing Kelley of several violations of his terms of office, from inadequate auditing to abuses of power.

Knedlik alleges Kelley violated the state constitution by living in Tacoma instead of Olympia and that he failed to vet a “crony” he hired, Jason JeRue, whose work history has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.

‘Gross abuse’

“There has been a gross abuse of the office,” Knedlik said in an interview.

Knedlik, 68, of Kirkland has run for a series of offices since his legislative term and has sued Sound Transit over the transit agency’s policies.

In Friday’s filing, he says Kelley failed to comply with the requirements of his office for inadequately investigating Sound Transit and for not reporting the agency to the attorney general’s office.

Under state elections procedure, the secretary of state will send copies of the charges to Kelley and Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Monday to set the recall election process in motion.

A hearing in Superior Court will follow, where a judge will decide if the charges constitute a sufficient cause to remove Kelley from office.

After that, Knedlik will need to collect a quarter of the total number of votes cast in the last auditor’s election to put the recall on the ballot.

That means he’ll need 715,800 signatures from registered voters, which Knedlik is confident he can collect.

“There’s not a groundswell of support for this individual,” Knedlik said.

Never a recall in state

No statewide official has ever been recalled in Washington history.

The papers were filed with the secretary of state hours after an editorial appeared on the website of The Seattle Times, the state’s largest newspaper, calling for Kelley’s resignation because of the federal investigation and the auditor’s failure to address it publicly.

The investigation against Kelley became public when federal authorities searched his home last month and subsequently subpoenaed his office for records about JeRue, a longtime business associate of Kelley’s hired as a technical writer for the auditor shortly after Kelley took office in 2013.

Kelley did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

Last modified: April 04. 2015 4:47PM
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