Sunday, October 18, 2015

Political Desk: Executive Branch

Like the state legislature and the courts, nothing is going on over in the executive branch for the election. Washington State elects all its major positions for the executive, and does so on a four-year cycle, which coincides with the presidential elections. Which is why we haven't seen a Republican Governor since 1980, and our executive has been overwhelmingly Democrat (interesting exception -Secretary of State. which tends GOP)

And that's cool. The legislature, as a body, has more collective power than the governor, and the various executive positions are expected to obey the basic laws of politics - Do a good job, and for god's sake, don't embarrass us. But, for the first time in many years, we have an honest-to-goodness scandal on the executive side. Which you have may missed, because we are just so darn polite about it.

Meet Troy Kelley. He's our state auditor, though he is on a leave of absence at the moment. This is an elected position which oversees government spending, handles financial information, and you know, audits. He was elected back in 2012, and at the time, this blog gave him a shrug and a whatever, as both candidates presented themselves as strong, sober, pro-business types.

Which I suppose should always be a warning sign. If someone pitches himself as a good businessman, and therefore should be good in government, you should start counting the spoons in the executive cafeteria.

Anyway, Troy Kelley is currently under ten counts of indictment on a variety of charges involving financial shenanigans in his previous job, up to and including hiding over 2 mill from the IRS. This stems of an investigation of a co-worker who Mr. Kelley had later hired when he was in state government. Now, the case has not been resolved, but having multiple indictments against you for your financial dealings makes it difficult to maintain a position where you are responsible for overseeing the state's financial dealings. Practically everyone in Olympia, regardless of party, has demanded his resignation. Mr. Kelley, as I have mentioned, has taken an unpaid leave.

Unpaid leave? Can't you just get rid of him? Well, no. He's an elected official, and his service is not contingent on pleasing the governor, the legislature, or anyone else. There is also the chance that he is innocent of the charges, but maybe I'm just whistling past the graveyard now. If he is convicted of a felony, he can be impeached. He can also impeached for malfeasance, but only for actions taken in his state job. And he may resign and be replaced by the governor. But he hasn't resigned, so we don't really have a state auditor (his second in command, an appointed position, is running things).

Yet this is all so polite, in part because it feels so bloodless and white-collar. There are no suspicious deaths, no tawdry assignations, no hostile twitter feeds. He's been pretty much described as not hard-core political, but just a guy who showed up interested in the job. With the exception of the Seattle Times wanting to remind folk that this is a DEMOCRAT in hot water, things are fairly leisurely, and I don't even know if it will be an issue by this time next year. We shall see.

More later,