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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."

Troy Kelley Recall Petition Advances To Pierce County Court

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
The Washington attorney general's office filed a recall petition against State Auditor Troy Kelley Friday.

A citizen effort to recall indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley has cleared a key hurdle.

The state attorney general’s office Friday filed the recall petition with Pierce County Superior Court. The next step is a hearing on May 8.

The recall alleges Kelley is unfit for office not because he’s been indicted by a federal grand jury but for the way he did his job after he was elected. The petition accuses Kelley of failing to report to work and not diligently overseeing the work of his staff.

Kelley will have a chance to defend himself in court. Then the judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to allow the recall to go forward. If so, then the real heavy lift begins.

The recall sponsor would have nine months to gather more than 700,000 valid voter signatures. This recall effort is being pushed by a former state lawmaker who is also a disbarred lawyer.

Kelley has pleaded not guilty to a 10-count federal indictment that includes charges of filing false income tax returns. The first-term Democrat plans to take a leave of absence beginning May 1, but says he intends to return to office once he’s been vindicated.

The Secretary of State’s office says a statewide elected official has never been successfully recalled in Washington history.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."