Rudat ethics report released, finally

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:

Summary

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Breaking News: Malchow resigns from city council

June 8, 2022: Mayor Christie Malchow tendered her resignation from the Sammamish City Council today, effective June 12.

Christie Malchow

Malchow cited missing too many family obligations for he young children and with her husband.

Malchow was midway through her second term.

The council must select a new mayor. The deputy mayor is Kali Clark, but her position doesn’t automatically elevate her to mayor. Both positions are ceremonial, selected by the council–not the voters.

Clark is only in her sixth month as deputy mayor in her first term in public office. It’s unlikely that Karen Moran, who served two years as mayor and who is six months into her second term on the council, will be selected to succeed Malchow. Moran has been a divisive force on the council. She also opposed the ethics investigation of former city manager David Rudat. She still opposes releasing the reports to the public.

Kent Treen is also unlikely to be named mayor. He’s in his final two years of his first term and like Moran, opposed the ethics probe and release of the reports to the Sammamish voters.

Pam Stuart served one full term but did not seek reelection. However, when Ken Gamblin resigned in January, Stuart was appointed to his seat by the King County Council when the Sammamish City Council deadlocked over the appointment.

Malchow’s resignation letter is below.

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City Council votes 4-3 to release Rudat ethics investigation reports

After months of debate, the City Council finally voted 4-3 to release the investigation reports of former city manager David Rudat.

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.

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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.

Who “gets it” and who doesn’t on Rudat releasing ethics investigation reports

Editorial

Karen Moran doesn’t get why transparency is a good thing.

April 26, 2022: Some on the Sammamish City Council just don’t get it. Mayor Christie Malchow and Member Karen Moran sure don’t.

Members Amy Lam, Kali Clark, and Karen Howe get it, especially Howe. Howe provided an eloquent argument for why the Rudat ethics investigative reports should be made public. She is providing leadership that is, sadly, absent from Mayor Malchow, who now flip-flops her votes. She did so twice in last week’s meeting.

Sammamish Comment has written much about the Rudat probe and why the reports of his misdeeds should be made public. We won’t repeat these long details. Last Tuesday’s city council meeting brings up new issues in the debate over releasing the reports.

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City Council deadlocks again on releasing Rudat ethics investigation report

April 20, 2022: The Sammamish City Council deadlocked in two more votes this week on the release of the reports of the ethics investigation of former City Manager David Rudat.

Votes were taken Tuesday on two motions; each failed on a 3-3 deadlock.

Council Member Amy Lam moved to release the report with certain redactions. Mayor Christie Malchow offered an amendment to release the report, under attorney-client privilege, only to the council members. Malchow voted against this motion on April 5, which failed in a 3-3 vote. Offering the same motion this week represents a flip-flop by Malchow. The amendment failed on a 3-3 vote, with Malchow, Deputy Mayor Kali Clark and Council Member voting in favor. Lam voted with Members Kent Treen and Karen Moran in opposing this motion. Lam’s flip from the April 5th vote defeated Malchow’s amendment.

Christie Malchow flip-flops twice in voting whether to release the Rudat ethics investigation reports.

On Lam’s main motion, Lam, Howe and Clark voted in favor of releasing a redacted report. Malchow flipped again and once more sided with Treen and Moran against releasing the report, even in a redacted form. Treen and Moran were opposed to the ethics probe all along and continue to oppose any release of the reports to the public. Only an executive summary has been released.

Malchow under pressure

Karen Howe says the city won’t put the controversy behind it until the Rudat reports are released to the public.

Malchow has been under pressure throughout the ethics probe, first as the leading proponent of initiating the probe while deputy mayor and when the vote came to fire or suspend Rudat. The council rejected the former on a 2-5 vote (only former Council Members Tom Odell and Pam Stuart supported firing him); and the on a vote to suspend him, which received a majority of the council votes.

Subsequently as mayor, Malchow provided the swing vote to block release of the reports. During Tuesday’s meeting, Malchow admitted she’s been under pressure and the strain was obvious. She said she was on the fence about releasing the reports, then split her votes in favor and then rejecting release. Malchow wants to “move on” from the controversy, but Howe said this won’t happen until the reports are released. Moran feared a lawsuit by result from release and said her role, among others, is to “protect the city.” Howe rejected this reasoning, saying if a lawsuit resulted, so be it.

Malchow questioned releasing the report detailed why Rudat was let go and all the dirty laundry surrounding the move.

The 15 minute discussion and debate with worth watching for the impassioned discussion and debate. The video is below.

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