Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is demanding a formal explanation after State Auditor Troy Kelley asked two top staff members to resign and put a third on administrative leave. The shake-up follows Kelley’s full-time return to the office after his six-week federal trial.
Chief of Staff Doug Cochran and Deputy Communications Director Adam Wilson both confirmed that Kelley requested their resignations this week. Thomas Shapley, a former spokesman for the office, said he was told to stay home and not do any work until the end of the month when his retirement kicks in.
In a letter to Kelley, Inslee said he is “deeply concerned about the removal of these hard-working employees.”
Jan Jutte who was acting auditor in Kelley’s absence last year said she’s “disappointed” to see “three good people going out the door” and said the auditor’s office is now “operating in a realm of fear.”
Kelley recently returned the auditor’s office full-time after he was found not guilty of lying to the IRS by a federal jury that deadlocked on several other charges related to his past real estate services business.
Prosecutors have not indicated whether they intend to retry him on any of the counts.
Kelley has said he has no plans to run for re-election this year, but he’s also ignored multiple calls to step down from office. A call to the state auditor’s office for comment was not immediately returned, but Kelley told the Seattle Times in an email that his office doesn't comment on personnel matters.