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Politics

McKenna's Past Practices Raising Ethics Questions

May 22, 2012

When he was a King County councilman, Republican Rob McKenna may have run afoul of ethics laws designed to prevent elected officials from using government property for political purposes. The AP:

An Associated Press review of thousands of pages of official McKenna documents stored at the King County Archives identified hundreds of records that have no place in government files: fundraising lists, candidate strategy ideas, a voided campaign check and a packet titled "Rob McKenna For Attorney General." And there are strong indications that McKenna himself was at least aware of how his District 6 office mixed campaign and government documents.

McKenna, now the attorney general and Republican favorite in this year's race for governor, said in an interview that many of the documents were likely left accidentally in the office by someone doing outside campaign work. Questioned about the fact that political issues were scheduled for discussion during staff meetings, McKenna said the office inevitably discussed politics but that they were careful not to use county resources for personal or campaign matters.

"Part of what you do in the county council business is politics, but that's not the same thing as running a campaign," he said.

Stories about ethics issues are headaches for candidates, but there is a spectrum ranging from the most damaging kind of story (Claire McCaskill's plane controversy, for example) to the least. At first glance, this does not look that serious, but it's not great, either. Expect Democrats to make hay over it. McKenna doesn't have the reputation of a pol who tries consistently to skirt the rules, but there are plenty of operatives who would like to change that.

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