- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - In a story May 11 about Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley, The Associated Press reported erroneously the position of Jenny Durkan. She is the former U.S. Attorney for Seattle, not the lead prosecutor in Kelley’s fraud trial. The article also misidentified the gender of one of the people Kelley fired.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Indicted Washington auditor lashes out at governor

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley has responded to Gov. Jay Inslee’s concerns over Kelley’s firing of three staffers after his federal fraud trial ended, essentially telling the governor to back off

By LISA BAUMANN

Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) - Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley responded Wednesday to Gov. Jay Inslee’s concerns over Kelley’s firing of three staffers after his federal fraud trial ended, essentially telling the governor to back off.

“Please let the hard working employees of the State Auditor’s Office do their job, and refrain from political grandstanding,” Kelley wrote, accusing the governor of using comments to create news coverage for himself in an election year.

Kelley, a Democrat elected in 2012, is the state official overseeing the rooting out waste and fraud in government operations.

A federal jury in Tacoma last month failed to reach a verdict on 14 of 15 charges against Kelley, which included possession of stolen property and money laundering. Prosecutors accused Kelley of keeping $3 million in fees he should have refunded to homeowners when he ran a real-estate services business a decade ago.

Kelley’s lawyers insisted he was entitled to keep the money. The jury acquitted him on one count of lying to the IRS while the other charges remain in effect. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle has not said whether it plans to retry him.

After the trial Kelley fired three male staffers - his chief of staff, a deputy communications director and a part-time special assistant.

In a letter to Kelley on Friday, Inslee asked what personnel changes Kelley had made since his return to the office and wanted him to explain the specific basis for his actions. Inslee cited the state’s constitution in the letter, saying it gives the governor authority to require a response to the inquiries.

Kelley responded Wednesday saying he irreparably lost confidence in his office’s communications team which resulted in three firings.

Kelley refrained from giving specifics on his personnel decisions as requested by the governor.

“Frankly, in my view your request appears to be campaigning with taxpayer resources at best, and at worst another attempt to influence the ongoing federal administration of justice to which you directly reference in your letter,” Kelley wrote, referring to his trial.

Kelley also says he hopes the governor has a deeper concern for what Kelley called the “various serious management issues” facing the governor’s cabinet agencies. He suggested Inslee review the latest audit highlighting shortcomings in the Department of Transportation tolling systems and said he should review recent firings at the state’s Department of Corrections due to the early release of more than 3,000 prisoners because of an error.

Referring to Inslee’s general counsel, Nicholas Brown, as “of television Survivor fame,” Kelley requested that the governor direct Brown to refrain from contacting the U.S. Attorney’s Office, noting that Brown worked with Jenny Durkan, the former U.S. attorney for Seattle.

Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith addressed Kelley’s letter in an email on Wednesday.

“This is a bizarre comment that just deepens our concerns,” she wrote.

Kelley is in the final year of his term and has said he won’t run for re-election.

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