Snohomish County executive resigns over harassment flap

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EVERETT — Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon resigned Thursday at the end of his "state of the county" speech, saying his family has suffered enough from the political controversy surrounding his office.

The embattled county leader, who is serving his third term in the elected office, said his last day will be May 31 because he wants to give the Democratic Party enough time to pick his replacement, The Daily Herald reported.

On Wednesday, the County Council removed some authority from his office following accusations that his staff members have been harassing his political rivals.

Reardon is calling for an independent investigation.

The County Council took action after The Herald reported on documents filed with the Secretary of State's office linking two of Reardon's staff to attack Web pages, spoof email addresses and a series of public records requests under an assumed name.

Whatever investigators find, the conduct described in the news stories is "reprehensible and casts a shadow over county government," said Councilman John Koster, the lone Republican on the council.

The council and Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe also have called for an outside investigation.

"It is incumbent on the council to ensure that all county records are appropriately maintained and kept available for investigative and legal purposes," the council said in a statement.

Reardon released a statement Wednesday criticizing the council's action, saying it was legal for his staff member to request the records.

"The highly unusual step taken today creates a distraction from county business while raising serious questions about council's intentions," the statement said.

Reardon was the subject of a six-month investigation by the State Patrol, which was completed last year with no charges filed. The investigation revealed that Reardon had an affair with a county employee and may have used county resources and time to campaign for re-election.