Alleged Reardon mistress says investigation didn't go far enough

Alleged Reardon mistress says investigation didn't go far enough
SEATTLE -- The woman at the heart of an alleged sex scandal is blasting the investigation against Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon for not going far enough.

Tami Dutton said she was Reardon's mistress, off and on, for the last six years, and she triggered the state's investigate into the county executive.

"I knew his intention was never to leave his wife due to the fact that he was planning to become Governor," Dutton said, a married mother at the time their alleged relationship began.

Reardon, a married father, hasn't spoken about the alleged affair and declined a request to appear in this report. But, back in May, after confronting him in a parking garage, Reardon called the allegations against him "baseless."

"This is all going to work out in the end," he said. "I've said that since day one, I'm not concerned about it one bit."

In a statement, Reardon's attorney said his client "acknowledged a lapse in judgment in his association with Ms. Dutton." The statement went on to say "her efforts to use the media to level false accusations ... needs to stop."

Dutton is a Snohomish County employee and she dropped the bombshell about the alleged affair last year.

"We became good friends and then it became something more intimate in 2005," she said.

She said she came clean because she feared she'd lose her job.

"I wanted protection for myself, not an investigation," she said.

Dutton said she originally reached out to Reardon, but he hung up on her. She then approached one of his staff members.

"I was scared," she said. "I asked, 'What are you going to do to protect me?' And he said, 'Nothing, you just need to keep your mouth shut.'"

Instead, she told her bosses everything. She was worried Reardon wined and dined her with county money.

"I'm not perfect in this," she said. "I didn't spend county dollars, but I did spend two and a half hours on the phone with him during work hours."

Dutton said during their relationship, Reardon was often with her when he should have been in the office. The Snohomish County Prosecutors asked the state patrol to investigate whether Reardon used county money for out-of-town trysts. Dutton told investigators she accompanied Reardon on business trips to Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Six months later, the patrol produced a 13,000 page investigative report that found only one questionable charge -- an unaccounted $6 cab fare.

The Problem Solvers spent weeks pouring through the report. So did the the Island County prosecutor, who determined there was "insufficient evidence" to charge Reardon with any crime.

Reardon's attorney struck back against Dutton, saying her "prior false accusations against Mr. Reardon diverted the WSP from legitimate law enforcement activity and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars."

From the start, Dutton told investigators she had no proof who was paying for Reardon's travel, just suspicions. But she was disappointed that the patrol admittedly did not investigate any other allegations.

"Washington State Patrol's narrow scope upsets me a bit," she said.

WSP spokesman Bob Calkins said the patrol only investigated whether Reardon misused county money, but Dutton wants to know if they found anything else during that investigation. And, if they did, why they didn't investigate it further.

Calkins said he heard about other allegations, but the prosecutor needed an answer in a timely matter and a more inclusive investigation would have taken too long. WSP did document all the allegations.

Dutton said she saw Reardon making campaign calls during work hours, and other county employees told investigators Reardon was often absent from the office.

The former Deputy county Executive described him as virtually "non-existent" at the county office. Another county worker said "Sometimes you wouldn't see him for days at a time," and another said when it came to out of town conferences, he was "non-existent for the most part."

Reardon dodged criminal charges, but he is now facing possible civil penalties. The Public Disclosure Commission, the state's watchdog on campaign practices, is now reviewing all 13,000 pages of the State Patrol report.

Two newspaper investigations reviewed some of Reardon's work phone records and allege he used office resources to make political phone calls during his bid for his third term as Snohomish County Executive.

The PDC said its investigation was triggered by a political blogger filing a complaint against Reardon. The investigation should be completed early next year.