The personnel director for Thurston County has filed an illegal campaigning complaint against county Assessor Steven Drew, alleging that the Democrat solicited donations for commissioner Sandra Romero’s re-election from four top managers during a meeting in county offices on Feb. 9.
Perhaps more damaging in the 2012 election cycle is a second accusation: that Drew asked one of his managers in the last year to get information from the office of Auditor Kim Wyman that his wife, Kathleen Drew, might use in her campaign for secretary of state against Wyman. The complaint says one of Drew’s managers quoted him as saying, “For full disclosure, I don’t need this information in my capacity as Assessor, but the information would be helpful for my wife.’’
Steven Drew could not be reached immediately to comment and Kathleen Drew said she had no comment until she had seen the complaint.
The state Public Disclosure Commission posted the Aug. 30 complaint from Thurston human resources director Diana Townsend online – here – today.
The complaint says “two employees confirmed that they attended that Feb. 9 manager’s meeting and that Mr. Drew, at the close of the meeting, urged the employees in attendance to contribute to Commissioner Romero’s campaign.’’
Townsend’s complaint goes on to say that she believes the actions by Steve Drew violate two state laws – one prohibiting the solicitation of campaign contributions “by a public official from an employee in the official’s agency” and one “which prohibits an elective official from using a public office for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election.’’
The complaint lists a second incident that purportedly occurred in the past year. Townsend’s complaint letter to the PDC says that a division manager, Lynn Richard, said Drew asked her to “investigate an inquiry from a vendor claiming that the Auditor’s Office was not collecting certain recording fees and provide him with information that could be used against Kim Wyman, the current Thurston County auditor, who is running for office (Washington State Secretary of State).”
I called Townsend to see if there had been ongoing personnel problems in the assessor’s office that could be a backdrop to the complaints – which did not surface at Townsend’s office until Aug. 6 and Aug. 24. But Townsend declined to say, explaining it would be “inappropriate” until the PDC had finished its investigation.
“We don’t typically have complaints of this nature. That is why I forwarded it to the PDC,’’ Townsend said.
Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the PDC, said the case is being assigned to an investigator to go into the field and corroborate the allegations.
But the complaint would not be resolved before Election Day on Nov. 6.
That means the question will hang over Kathleen Drew as well as Romero until then.