The state Executive Ethics Board is investigating whether a pair of Democrat appointees – former state Department of Commerce Director Rogers Weed and former Deputy Director Daniel Malarkey — violated ethics law in working for 1Energy Systems. The ethics investigation focuses on the links between the “two former department leaders and a multimillion-dollar state grant for a project managed by the private company (1Energy) where the two men now work.”
As Shift reported, whistle blower complaint has led to an independent investigation into Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) and $16 million worth of taxpayer-funded no-bid contracts the PUD granted, since 2011, to 1Energy. David Kaplan, founder of 1Energy, started his company when he was still an employee at the PUD. Email evidence indicates Kaplan and his so-called supervisors at the PUD negotiated most of the contract that would go to his future company while he was still working for the taxpayers.
But, as Shift pointed out, that’s not where the smell of corruption ends. Top officials from the state Department of Commerce also went to work for 1Energy shortly before Commerce awarded Snohomish PUD a whopping $7.3 million to help pay for the work done by… 1Energy. Weed, who was the director of Commerce from 2009 until early 2013, is now one of Energy1’s vice presidents. Another vice president is Malarkey, who was deputy director under Weed at the state. The Everett Herald points out that Kaplan himself was a contractor for Weed’s Department Commerce from April 2009 until March 2010.
Senate Republicans are now investigating the potential conflicts of interest between public and private entities involved in the scandal, i.e. the state Department of Commerce, Snohomish County PUD and 1Energy.
Brian Bonlender, Jay Inslee’s former congressional chief of staff and now the current Democrat-appointee as the Commerce Department Director, claims that there is no evidence of wrongdoing. However, with the amount of tax dollars involved – and with the stench of yet-another Snohomish County Democrat scandal growing – even Bonlender admitted that an investigation “seemed appropriate,” and necessary to go outside the agency for assistance. The Everett Herald,
“Meanwhile, the department has changed the contract language for future grants to require recipients, like the Snohomish County Public Utility District, and subcontractors, such as 1Energy, to disclose any former state employees working for them or on their boards.
The department also is conducting additional ethics training for employees, emphasizing the rules regarding future work in the private sector.”
To paraphrase an old adage, perhaps the Commerce Department has conveniently decided to close to barn door after the (corrupt) cows have left the barn.