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Company offers to reveal settlement paid by state auditor candidate Troy Kelley

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Oct. 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
October 2, 2012 12:08 pm

A company that sued Kelley has offered to reveal the amount the Tacoma Democrat paid to settle the lawsuit — if Kelley will agree.

His campaign says he won’t, saying the deal is confidential for a reason.

The offer is posted on Kelley’s opponent James Watkins‘s website and was first reported by Brian Rosenthal of the Seattle Times. The Tacoma Democrat settled in 2011 with the his former client, Old Republic Title, and both sides agreed to keep the settlement confidential.

Old Republic had accused Kelley of trying to keep $3.8 million in money he owed clients. He wasn’t charged with any crime. Kelley has characterized the lawsuit as frivolous and politically motivated. Old Republic attorney Scott Smith said his company is willing to let voters see for themselves.

Kelley’s campaign issued a statement saying it’s not completely his decision:

Beyond Old Republic and Troy Kelley, there were multiple parties involved in the lawsuit in question.  Some of those parties would have to waive confidentiality as well to make any release, which is highly unlikely. And in any case, the terms of the settlement are under a confidentiality agreement designed to protect the privacy, and in some cases the personal information, of all parties involved and thousands of individuals.

I’ve asked for more detail on who the other parties were. The parties are listed in a court document filed in the case as Old Republic, Kelley, his wife, and two companies, both of which Kelley reports owning 100 percent.

“There are only two signatures on the settlement agreement,” Smith said. “One is by Troy Kelley on behalf of all the defendants.” The other is an Old Republic executive.

“There’s no personal information in the settlement agreement,” he said. “There were thousands of escrow customers whose money (Kelley) took, but they’re not part of the settlement.”

Kelley’s campaign also said releasing only the settlement amount wouldn’t give the full scope of the settlement. I asked Old Republic if they would be willing to release the whole deal. Smith said yes.

There are no terms or conditions of the settlement that Old Republic Title would not be willing to disclose if Mr. Kelley agrees to do so.  Old Republic Title has nothing to hide.  It will make the entire settlement agreement public if Mr. Kelley will agree.

Here’s Kelley’s full statement:

Beyond Old Republic and Troy Kelley, there were multiple parties involved in the lawsuit in question.  Some of those parties would have to waive confidentiality as well to make any release, which is highly unlikely. And in any case, the terms of the settlement are under a confidentiality agreement designed to protect the privacy, and in some cases the personal information, of all parties involved and thousands of individuals.  It is worth noting that almost every single case that ends in a settlement is subject to a confidentiality agreement which is not filed with the courts. And every settlement agreement states that no liability has been assigned and that the settlement is done to avoid future litigation costs. Regardless, it would be a violation for either Old Republic or Troy Kelley  to break the confidentiality agreement.

The important thing here is that the underlying business dispute in question was resolved long ago and has no bearing on the race for auditor.

It is also worth noting that Old Republic has only offered to release a small portion of the settlement They have not offered to waive confidentiality regarding all of the other terms of the settlement, including their obligations under it. Releasing only the settlement amount would provide only a partial and misleading picture of the full scope of the settlement.

Voters will see through the false and malicious attacks instigated by Troy’s Tea Party opponent. While James Watkins has expressed many extreme views that raise questions about his ability to serve as an impartial auditor, and has made apparently false and exaggerated claims about his own auditing experience that he has been unable to substantiate, Troy has a long track record as a military officer and accomplished legislator. His credentials for the job, including having chaired the bipartisan legislative audit committee, are well known, and in the end that is what is going to matter to the voters of Washington State.

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