By Scott Hamilton
March 21, 2022: The reelection of then-Mayor Karen Moran took precedence for three council members over the ethics investigation of Sammamish City Manager David Rudat, data revealed in a newly released set of records.
The exchange of text messages between Moran, Ken Gamblin, and Kent Treen revealed they sought to delay a vote on whether to fire City Manager Dave Rudat until after the November 2021 city council election. Moran was seeking reelection to a second term.
Moran also blamed then-fellow council member Pam Stuart for the Rudat probe, according to text messages exchanged three weeks before the election. The vote to fire Rudat came at the November 16 council meeting. It failed on a 2-5 vote, with only Stuart and then-council member Tom Odell in favor. A vote to suspend Rudat for 30 days passed. Implementation was postponed to give Rudat a chance to respond to charges he violated Executive Session confidentiality and attorney-client privilege with his daughter, Stephanie. Stephanie and her allies control several Facebook groups which evolved into support groups for the city manager and hit groups on Sammamish Comment editor Miki Mullor. Mullor filed the complaint with the city leading to the probe and disciplinary action.
The complaint, filed in May 2021, resulted in the council hiring outside attorneys to conduct the investigation, recommend disciplinary action, and represent the minority opposed to the probe, Moran, Gamblin and Treen.
It took the city about 60 days to produce the text messages after a Public Records Request.
Delay, delay, delay
During the next few months, Odell complained that the “Three Ks” were delaying the investigation.
“Firing the CM before November will impact the election,” Treen wrote Moran and Gamblin on October 13.
“We need to get [council members] Chris (Ross) and Christie (Malchow) to agree to back off a week or two,” Moran replied. “It will harm this election. The only people that have a problem with Dave are Pam and her D party pals. I have not run into one other person except Miki. Basically, nobody knows of any problems so let’s pick election time to tell everyone.”
“That is Pam’s plan. And make the city look out of control,” Treen replied.
“Yup all while I am mayor,” Moran responded.
Later the same day, Treen complained about the probe in another text. Treen already had refused to meet with investigators for months. “I’m frustrated with this council. And the fact that I will be spending time with an investigator on a non-issue (IMO) is wasting more of my time,” Treen wrote in an October 13 text.
Gamblin, who opposed the investigation from the start, also weighed in. Rudat, he wrote, “does have his faults, but not enough to fire him. Especially over this BS issue.”
Firing Rudat for cause
Odell and Stuart wanted to fire Rudat for cause, which would have meant no golden parachute for him. During the council’s debate on November 16, during which time Moran attempted to cut Stuart off, Stuart said, “We have facts. We have facts that the city manager failed to safeguard information.” Rudat, she said, violated the code of conduct of the International City/County Management Association and of the city’s code of conduct. The facts, Stuart said, also pointed to the city manager not protecting himself from undue influence of “outside people,” whom she did not identify. Information later surfaced that this was principally Rudat’s daughter, Stephanie.