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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington State Auditor Pleads Not Guilty To Federal Criminal Charges

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Austin Jenkins
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Northwest News Network
Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley delivers a statement after pleading not guilty to federal charges of false tax returns and obstruction.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to federal charges of false tax returns and obstruction.

Kelley was flanked by his two attorneys, both former federal prosecutors. He listened attentively as the government listed the charges against him stemming from hi past business practices.

Asked by the judge if he understood the charges he stood and answered, “Yes, your honor.” Kelley is not being detained and has been released on his own recognizance.

After the arraignment, Kelley made a brief appearance before the media in which he said, “I did not break the law” and that he is determined to fight back and clear his name. He said he will take a leave from the office of state auditor but said he does not intend to resign. In fact, he added that he will plans to back as state auditor once he is vindicated.

Kelley's attorneys said this is a civil tax-timing issue and that it’s misplaced to be in criminal court. They said their client is being targeted because of who he is, not because of anything he actually did.

There have been numerous calls for Kelley to resign by Governor Inslee and many other Democratic Party leaders.

The Washington State Republican Party has also called for Kelley to resign.