May 17, 2022: The Sammamish City Council voted 4-3 tonight to release “all reports, facts and findings,” subject to redactions of names of minors and city staff, of the investigation of former City Manager David Rudat.
Voting in favor were Council Members Pam Stuart, who made the motion, Amy Lam, Karen Howe, and Deputy Mayor Kali Clark. Opposing were Mayor Christie Malchow and Members Karen Moran and Kent Treen.
There are two reports: one is 44-pages, and the other is an 88-page report. The City previously refused all Public Records Requests for these reports, citing attorney-client privilege. The council vote overrides this position. Doing so drew objections from Moran, who said the Council should follow the attorney’s advice to keep the reports confidential.
Stuart said releasing the reports provides transparency for open government, which is good government and shines a light on government. “We cannot put this issue squarely behind us and move forward…until this information is put forward,” Stuart said.Read more: City Council votes 4-3 to release Rudat ethics investigation reports
Taking an oath
Moran said the Council should reject calls from the public to release the reports because doing so could lead to potential litigation. “When you take an oath for the city, you take an oath to protect the city,” she said. It is not in the best interest of the city to release the reports, she added. Stuart said releasing the reports will lift a cloud hanging over the city. Moran rejected this.
“This cloud exists because you talk it up,” she said. “If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. If you put it out there, then I hope they come after people personally,” Moran said.
Lam supported releasing the reports so people will understand why the city “separated” from the former city manager, David Rudat. The city agreed to pay him $300,000 plus benefits to go away. “Any council member who doesn’t support its release doesn’t support transparency,” Lam said. “They are motivated by their own self-interests under the guise of protecting the city.”
“I don’t know if this is going to put this behind us because [citizens] will interpret this as they will. That part isn’t our job. Our part is to be transparent and live with the consequences. I apologize to the public that we have not released the reports sooner,” said Howe.
Malchow said the city previously released the summary of what is in the work product. “I think the details of it are largely private conversations between two citizens. I don’t think it does anything to release it to the citizens, so I will vote against it.”
Moran responded to Lam, “To say that someone doesn’t value transparency is offensive and very childish, frankly. When you sit in this seat, your job is to make tough decisions. We’ve been advised not to do it. It will set a precedent.”
Stephanie Rudat to submit her own documents
Stephanie Rudat, the daughter of David Rudat, told the Council during Public Comment that the investigation was biased and that she was denied the ability to present her own evidence by one of the investigating attorneys. She said she has information, What’s App texts and data that will show Malchow and other council members shared information that was not included in the report. Rudat vowed to submit detailed information to the City Council on May 18.