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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."

He Got Rich And Rose Fast. Then He Fell Hard

The story of Troy Kelley, Washington state’s auditor, is stranger than fiction.


Dee Lamb was a 60-year-old widow living in Everett when her former boss showed up. He backed his car into the garage of her modest town home and started loading files. His associate went inside to find her computer.

“He was deleting everything,” Lamb said.

Their visit lasted about an hour. At the time, Lamb thought it made sense they would clear out files. After all, she had been laid off and no longer worked for the company.

But Lamb didn’t know that her former boss?—?a state lawmaker with a bright future in the Democratic Party?—?would soon face questions about the whereabouts of his business records.

Seven years later, on April 16, 2015, Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley strode into the federal courthouse in Tacoma. A tall man with dark hair and a square jaw, Kelley had always been the picture of confidence. But on this day, his suit hung off his narrow shoulders, and his eyes looked sunken from apparent lack of sleep.

The day before, a federal grand jury had just indicted Kelley on 10 charges related to his previous work in the real estate services industry.

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Kelley was accused of possessing and concealing nearly $1.5 million in fees that should have been returned to homeowners across the state. The indictment said he “fraudulently retained, stole” and schemed to avoid paying taxes on the money.

As Kelley pleaded not guilty to those charges, his fellow Democrats abandoned him one by one. That day, Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the chair of the state Democratic Party called for Kelley to resign.

Kelley refused.

Reporting on the Troy Kelley scandal, Austin Jenkins unearthed a story that is stranger than fiction. Continue reading …

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."