- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A federal judge on Monday delayed the trial of indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley by seven months, prompting new calls for Kelley’s resignation or impeachment.

At a case conference Monday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton agreed to push back the trial date from next month to Jan. 19, 2016, given the complexity of the charges and the roughly 65,000 pages of discovery the U.S. Attorney’s Office has provided to Kelley and his lawyer, Mark Bartlett.

Kelley began a leave of absence this month, weeks after his indictment on 10 counts alleging that he stole from one-time business clients, avoided taxes and lied during a deposition in a civil case. According to federal prosecutors, he kept more than $1 million that he should have refunded to customers of his former real estate services company.

Lawmakers from both parties and Gov. Jay Inslee have said the leave of absence is not good enough. They want him to resign.

Inslee repeated that Monday, and Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland, said Monday that if he doesn’t, the House should consider impeaching him. Two Republican representatives, Drew Stokesbary and Drew MacEwen, said they would file a resolution Tuesday calling for a committee to draft articles of impeachment by May 22.



“For him to say, ‘I’m going to take a leave of absence until after the trial’ - that was one thing when the trial was set for June 8,” Habib said. “When he’s leaving the office for at least 10 months and the person who’s acting in his stead is not elected, that does jeopardize the work of that very important office.”

Neither Kelley nor his attorney would comment following Monday’s status conference.

In Kelley’s absence, the auditor’s office - dedicated to rooting out waste and fraud in state and local governments in Washington - is being headed by agency veteran Jan Jutte.

Prosecutors revealed at the conference that they are researching a potential conflict of interest in Bartlett’s representation of Kelley. Friedman did not provide further details, though he did specify that the purported conflict is not related to Bartlett’s former work as a longtime federal prosecutor in Seattle.

Following a public records request from The Associated Press, the Auditor’s Office on Monday released additional records related to Kelley, including a series of text messages between him and Matt Miller, deputy director for external affairs at the agency. The agency previously said that when it searched Kelley’s records, it found no text messages between the two - meaning Kelley had deleted them, as is allowed for messages that are considered “transitory,” said Auditor’s Office spokesman Thomas Shapley.

Most of the texts were related to setting up meetings, but several noted dismay about news coverage regarding the federal investigation. In one, sent just before midnight on March 18, Kelley complained about a story on a TV station’s website that listed his home address - federal agents had searched the property - and noted that Kelley was away.

He asked Miller to call the station and have the information removed.

“The alarm is off! Q13 and DOJ can foresee what will happen next. Insane!!!” Kelley wrote.

The next day, Kelley followed up with Miller to see if the information had been removed. Miller confirmed it had, but then wrote: “Hey we need to stop texts and communicate by phone.”

___

La Corte reported from Olympia.

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