Smoking Gun: City Manager Rudat action to delete emails and records subject to Public Records Requests

By Scott Hamilton

A text message from David Rudat, the former Sammamish city manager, to Christie Malchow, at the time the deputy mayor, directing her to delete emails subject to public records requests surfaced this week while Malchow responded to a more recent public record request. 

Public Records Requests from C. M. Cutter and Sarah Hawes Kimsey sought emails between Miki Mullor, contractors, attorneys, and city staff.

Rudat wrote Malchow on Aug. 26, 2020, “Delete this email and all others with me, miki, etc. Kimsey and some guy named c.m. cutter are requesting emails between miki and contractors, city council, attorney, city staff…pass the word and delete.”

Source: Christie Malchow

Mullor at the time was the editor of Sammamish Comment. Kimsey was a former city employee who had sued the city over deleting posts on the city’s Facebook pages in violation of the First Amendment.

According to the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC), deleting public records is a violation of state law, RCW 40.16.020, which is a class B felony, punishable by imprisonment of no more than 10 years and a $5,000 fine.

Malchow told The Comment she ignored the text and did not forward it to the other council members as Rudat asked.   

Rudat’s text to Malchow was sent the day after the PRRs were submitted (PRR 3471, PRR 3472).  Four days later, on September 1,  the city responded to the requester that “given the City’s current backlog of public records requests, the City estimates that a first installment of records will be available by October 1, 2020.“ 

On October 2 the city eventually produced over 720 pages of emails between Mullor and city staff, related to interviews The Comment conducted regarding traffic concurrency and financial questions related to the Farmers Market. 

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