State Democrats investigate campaign leader

Probe focusing on $30K to $100K in questionable spending

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SEATTLE -- The executive director of the Democrat's state Senate campaign committee is being investigated after indications that he made improper expenditures using the group's money, lawmakers said Saturday.

In a conference call with reporters, the senators said an investigation was launched this week on how Michael King handled certain campaign expenses.

The Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the state senate, hired the Pacifica Law Group to spearhead the probe. They have also been in consultation with the King County's Prosecutor's office and the Seattle police department.

Pacifica attorney Paul Lawrence says no charges have been filed.

An email and phone call to King was not returned Saturday.

King has checked into a local area medical facility to seek treatment for personal problems, his attorney Lyle Tenpenny said.

"He intends to cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to doing so after receiving this much-needed treatment. This is a very difficult time for him and his family and for now, he must focus on getting well," Tenpenny said.

The alleged improper use of money was revealed after the committee's staffer in charge of tracking expenses had concerns about excessive reimbursements, such as paying for polling after the November elections last year.

The group is chaired by state Sens. David Frockt, Sharon Nelson and Ed Murray -- all of Seattle. All talked to reporters on Saturday.

"This is a tragedy," Murray said. "When he was hired before we came on, he was well respected for political skills and well liked."

King's access to committee bank accounts and the committee's headquarters have been removed, they said.

Local news blog PubliCola first reported the investigation Friday night.

The Seattle Times reported that the range of the improper spending is between $30,000 and $100,000.