State Auditor Troy Kelley said this afternoon that he has put one of his executives in charge of major responsibilities during a leave of absence.
In a statement issued by an outside spokesperson, Kelley said he has "communicated" his plan for operating the agency in his absence to Gov. Jay Inslee. Kelley also said he would accept no pay while on leave.
Earlier today, Inslee had demanded that Kelley tell him who will be in charge of the agency when Kelley goes on leave. The leave was expected to begin Friday, but Kelley now says it will start at 1 p.m. on Monday.
Inslee asked for a written answer with a plan by the end of Wednesday. In demanding the information, Inslee cited a section of the state constitution that says, “The governor may require information in writing from the officers of the state upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.”
Inslee also told Kelley that the governor has ordered that Kelley not be paid while he is on leave, which Kelley is taking to fight the federal criminal charges. And Inslee repeated an earlier written request for Kelley to resign.
Kelley is a statewide elected official who is independent of the governor's office — as is the State Auditor's Office. Inslee said he is ordering Kelley's pay stopped while he is on a leave of absence, because the governor is in charge of the state's payroll and financial management offices. Kelley's annual salary is $116,950, or $9,746 a month.
In his letter Tuesday, Inslee told Kelley: "You have yet to communicate with my office or the public a plan for how the State Auditor's Office will operate during your voluntary absence. This is extremely troubling. The public and state and local governments deserve a fully functioning State Auditor's Office, whether you choose to perform your duties or not."
When Kelley has been away from Olympia in the past, an executive council led by chief of staff Doug Cochran has run the agency. But Kelley said he has delegated responsibilities to Jan Jutte, the office's director of operations.
In a statement, she said, “I take very seriously the responsibilities that Auditor Kelley has delegated to me during his absence, but it is important to understand that that the successful operation of this agency is not the result of one person’s efforts. It is the result of leadership and teamwork throughout the State Auditor’s Office. We have an excellent Executive Leadership Team and a team of deputy directors and managers across the state, and I will rely heavily on each of them in the days ahead."
Kelley pleaded innocent April 16 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 10 counts of tax fraud, lying under oath in legal depositions, and lying to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. His trial is tentatively set for June 8. Kelley, 50, was released without bail with his travel being restricted to Washington.
Most of the lying charges relate to a civil lawsuit that Kelley and the plaintiffs settled out of court in 2011. But one charge — lying to the IRS — allegedly occurred in April 2013, three months after Kelley took over as state auditor. Kelley was also a state representative from Tacoma from 2006 to 2012.
This is the first federal indictment ever filed against a statewide elected official in Washington.