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Jury seated in Don Benton lawsuit against Clark County

Opening statements to begin Wednesday in his, two others’ employment dispute

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Don Benton, left, joins others as they stand while prospective jurors enter the room during the lawsuit trial Tuesday afternoon at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.
Don Benton, left, joins others as they stand while prospective jurors enter the room during the lawsuit trial Tuesday afternoon at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A jury has been seated in the trial over a lawsuit brought by Don Benton and two others against Clark County.

The trial — involving the former county official, Republican state senator and former Trump administration appointee along with two other former county employees — began Monday, including nearly two full days of jury selection. Opening statements by the plaintiffs’ and county’s attorneys are expected to begin Wednesday morning followed by witness testimony.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks and is taking place entirely at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.

Benton was the director of the now-defunct county Department of Environmental Services. He filed the lawsuit in December 2016 in Clark County Superior Court, along with subordinates Susan Rice and Christopher Clifford.

The suit alleged, in part, that they faced hostility and retaliation after resisting what they described as improper actions by then-county manager Mark McCauley. Amid a staff reorganization in March 2016, the three plaintiffs were laid off in what McCauley described as a cost-saving measure.

Benton was later appointed by then-President Donald Trump as the director of the Selective Service System.

The Clark County Council terminated McCauley’s contract in 2017.

Potential trial witnesses include the three plaintiffs, McCauley, County Councilor Julie Olson, Superior Court Judge Emily Sheldrick — formerly a deputy prosecutor in the county’s civil division — and former county councilors David Madore and Tom Mielke.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter

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