State Auditor Troy Kelley has maintained radio silence since news broke on a federal investigation that resulted in a subpoena of office records and a search of his home. Kelley’s only response to media inquires has been to issue a written statement denying any knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the investigation and any wrongdoing.
According to the latest reports, the State Auditor’s office announced it is done talking about the investigation into Kelley. Spokesman Thomas Shapely will no longer answer questions related to the Kelley, only those related to the office. The announcement comes after various media outlets and lawmakers called for Kelley to come clean on his involvement in the scandal.
Kelley expects the public to believe that he is “puzzled” over the federal investigation. However, based on the timeline of the investigation, his claim is more than a little difficult to believe.
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) first handed over Kelley’s financial reports to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2014—according to sources. In January 2015, the PDC supplied the FBI with an investigation report from a campaign complaint filed in 2012 by the Washington State Republican Party concerning Kelley.
The FBI requested records of Kelley’s reimbursements and phone logs from his time as a state representative from House Democrats last month. On February 19, House Democrats supplied the FBI with the information.
But, that’s not all.
In late February 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requested the tax returns and license information from Kelley-owned Blackstone International Inc. from the Washington State Department of Revenue. Earlier this month, the IRS requested additional information on the same issue from the Department of Revenue.
On March 5, 2015, the Washington State Auditor’s office received a grand jury subpoena for all documents relating to Jason Jerue. As Shift reported, Jerue is a former colleague of Kelley. He has also worked as a contractor for the state Auditor’s office since Kelley assumed office in 2013.
U.S. Treasury agents searched Kelley’s Tacoma home on March 16. And, on March 18, news broke of the grand jury subpoena and home search.
Given the extensive timeline of the ongoing federal investigation, it’s not hard to see why Kelley’s claims of puzzlement draw skepticism. But, Kelley isn’t the only top state official whose claims of ignorance fall short.
On March 19, Jay Inslee stated that he was not aware of the federal investigation involving Kelley until the news broke. Just to be clear, Inslee has claimed ignorance of a federal inquiry conducted by both the FBI and IRS (among others) that involved at least four separate state agencies turning over information on the State Auditor.
Inslee’s claim of ignorance leads to three possible conclusions: Inslee is woefully unaware of what is happening in his own administration, or at least four state agencies thought a federal investigation into the State Auditor was not important enough inform anyone in Inslee’s office, or Inslee is being less than truthful. None of those conclusions play well for our green governor.
The last concern Inslee should have right now is protecting a fellow Democrat. It’s time for Kelley to come clean on what he knows—he owes it to the public.
As Shift pointed out, if Kelley knows that the federal investigation will inevitably result in his resignation, he should not waste the time of Washingtonians and do it now. Certainly, Kelley should resign in time to allow candidates to file for a special election (May 11th is the deadline). Corrupt Democrats—like former Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon—all too often deliberately wait until after the deadline, giving the Democrat Party the right to appoint a replacement who gets more time in office, hoping voters might forget the corruption that got him/her there in the first place.