By Scott Hamilton
June 17, 2022: The 40-page summary of the ethics probe into former Sammamish City Manager Dave Rudat has been released to Sammamish Comment, pursuant to a public records request.
The release does not include all data, facts, and findings and it includes redactions for specific legal advice and certain names.
The entire report is here:
In a quick summary, here are some highlights:
- Claims and counterclaims by Stephanie Rudat, Dave Rudat’s daughter, and Miki Mullor, editor of Sammamish Comment, are common. Each often points the finger at the other about who approached whom for the relationship between them, who shared sensitive information and other aspects of their relationship.
- Stephanie Rudat admits she improperly listened to conversations involving her father and on occasion improperly published information on Facebook.
- Stephanie Rudat claims she obtained information from other council members, but only names one: Karen Moran, then the mayor.
- The report concluded that Stephanie Rudat improperly had access to attorney-client privileged information, though in some cases how she came by this information and whether leaks to her were intentional.
- Dave Rudat acknowledged that on occasion it was “possible” he provided the sensitive information to his daughter.
- Stephanie Rudat refused to participate in the investigation subsequent to her initial interview.
- At one point (PDF page 25, document page 13), Stephanie Rudat told the outside investigator that she had been in a four-hour meeting with then-Mayor Karen Moran and via telephone some councilmembers (who were not named). During this meeting, legal strategies were discussed. It is not reported whether the telephonic council members were aware Stephanie was present with Moran. Moran denied to the investigation that “any conversations or group discussions she had with Ms. Rudat including ‘city legal strategy’ details, asserting that these type of details were not typically shared with Council.”
- Stephanie Rudat forwarded privileged information she overheard in a conversation between her father and lawyer Peter Eglick to Mullor.
- “Although Ms. Rudat suggested that she may have learned this information from other sources, including a prior meeting with various councilmembers, the evidence tends to refute this,” the investigators wrote.
- On PDF page 26 and document page 14, Council Member Kent Treen appears for the first time. (It’s unclear if his name was previously redacted.) “Ms. Rudat did not explain how she knew Treen did not follow Mr. Rudat’s or Mr. Eglick’s direction or that this occurred in executive session.” “This” is not explained. Stephanie Rudat sought Mullor’s help with Treen. On the same page is a reference to then-Council Member Ken Gamble: “Ken will surely fill you] Mullor] in.” It is clear Stephanie Rudat had information from the executive sessions.
The report concludes that there was insufficient evidence to conclude Dave Rudat “affirmatively” leaked information. But it is clear that Stephanie Rudat gained information from him, Moran, and allegedly from other council members who were not identified. Treen and Gamblin were named in passing in relation to executive session events. (Moran, Treen and Gamblin opposed the investigation from the start and Gamblin refused to be interviewed. Moran and Treen opposed releasing the report. Moran flip-flopped on the final vote after opposing every motion to do so since May 2021.)
Despite repeated allegations by allies of Stephanie and Dave Rudat that Malchow specifically and all other council members except Pam Stuart generally had leaked confidential or sensitive information, nothing in the report substantiates these allegations.
Stephanie Rudat claimed that she released information to Mullor because she felt “coerced.”
“Although Ms. Rudat asserted that she only provided this information to Mr. Mullor because she felt ‘coerced’ to do so, the record tends to refute this contention,” the investigating attorney writes. “The record indicates that in many cases, Ms. Rudat initiated or volunteered information to Mr. Mullor without any prompting from him. However, more telling at the time she was providing information to him is that the record indicates that Ms. Rudat actively sought to socialize with Mr. Mullor at the time she was providing information to him.” (PDF page 28, document page 16, the footnote.)
The investigator reports that council members were unaware that Stephanie Rudat was listening to the conversations her father had with them.
Stephanie Rudat repeatedly claimed she received information from “council members” but the report does not identify them other than Moran, with hints that Gamblin and Treen also may have been sources.
Despite allegations by the Rudats and their allies that Mullor was receiving confidential information from council members, the report does not support these claims. Rather, the report fingers Stephanie Rudat as a principal source of information for Mullor.
Stephanie Rudat shared gossip about then-council member Jason Ritchie with Mullor. (PDF page 35, document page 23.) Dave Rudat responded to the investigator that Stephanie was “really embellishing” the purported conversation.
The investigation proved that Stephanie Rudat wrote some emails her father sent to staff. The probe also concluded that Stephanie Rudat indeed blocked political opponents from the Facebook groups Sammamish, WA, and Vote Sammamish. She denied doing so following an article in Sammamish Comment which made this claim.
The investigation also reports on Stephanie Rudat’s campaign against then-council member Pam Stuart, who opposed the hiring of her father (PDF page 46, document page 34).
As revealed in the release of an executive summary last year at the time the council proposed to discipline Dave Rudat, the investigation concludes city manager Rudat’s breaches were ill-advised but not affirmative breaches.
Oh, this is such a surprise Scott and Miki…Maybe this whole fiasco could be summarized for a graduate level ethics case study. Kudos to your public service efforts and persistence!
Your headline uses the word “finally”, and I completely agree. Three points I’d to make 1) To many inappropriate redactions in this report. 2) The 80+ page report should have been released also. And most important … 3) All the facts and findings must be released for public review, facts and findings are not protected by attorney-client privilege.