Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, dogged by allegations of misusing public funds, infidelity and harassment, announced his resignation Thursday.
The surprise announcement came during his State of the County address. Reardon spoke for about 10 minutes about his vision for the future of the county, and then announced his resignation in his closing remarks. The resignation will take effect at the end of May.
"The time I have had to spend addressing the myriad of false allegations has distracted me from doing my job as your County Executive," said Reardon. "Enough is enough.”
Reardon said the investigation last year into his potential misuse of public funds, for which he was never charged, and allegations of an extramarital affair took a personal toll.
"It is impossible for me to describe to you the emotional and financial toll these relentless attacks have taken on my wife, my family and me," said Reardon. "My wife and I have been required to spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees in order to defend against false and scurrilous allegations."
He also called for an outside, independent investigation into his own activities. He said he wants a probe of all the claims against him, which include erroneous public records requests, which some saw as harassment.
"The investigation should focus upon all allegations made against me and members of my staff as well as any other issues suggesting misconduct by other Snohomish county government officials," said Reardon. "I pledge to fully cooperate in any such investigation. I believe the citizens of Snohomish County deserve to know the truth about their elected officials something that can only occur if the investigation is independently conducted."
The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday unanimously passed an emergency ordinance to strip certain powers from Reardon. The Snohomish Information Services Department was removed from Reardon's control and put under the auspice of the county auditor's office. The information services department handles all technology for the county, including email transactions. It came after Reardon admitted his staff was involved in a series of broad public records requests targeting Reardon's political enemies.
Reardon's successor will be chosen by Snohomish County Democratic precinct officers in the coming months, according to county Councilman Dave Gossett.
Reardon and his wife held hands as they walked out of the address at the Everett Country Club. He did not take questions.