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Rep. Stokesbary files bill to address leaves of absence by elected officials

From the Auburn Reporter:

Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, pre-filed House Bill 2249, which would consider an elected office vacant if the officeholder takes a declared leave of absence for reasons other than health or military duty.

The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, and will be officially introduced on the first day of the special session scheduled to begin April 29.

“With Auditor Troy Kelley taking a leave of absence to fight his federal indictment, we are left with a leadership void in a critical government agency,” MacEwen said.

“Even after his own party leadership, including Gov. Jay Inslee, called for him to resign, he has remained committed to staying in an office he is unfit to lead. While I believe he is entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence, he has shown with this leave of absence that he is unable to come to work. A leave of absence to fight federal charges is unacceptable. Though I appreciate Governor Inslee’s attempt to withhold pay from the auditor during his leave, it does not change the fact that the auditor is not able to show up to work because he is facing federal felony charges. I once again call for him to resign his position immediately so the people of Washington can choose his replacement,” he said.

Stokesbary noted the importance of restoring public trust in the State Auditor’s Office.

“In light of Auditor Kelley’s federal indictment for tax fraud and obstruction, it is clear he is unfit to lead the very office tasked with maintaining public trust in state government,” Stokesbary said.

“Since the beginning, Troy Kelley has engaged in a blatant attempt to run out the clock on his term. We believe Kelley will be effectively vacating his office on May 1, even if he insists on labeling it a leave of absence. The citizens of Washington deserve an auditor who is able to show up for work every day focused on maintaining efficiency and transparency in state government, not one who hides from the public while he fights a federal indictment,” he said.

The special session is scheduled to last up to 30 days.

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