Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday his office is launching a criminal investigation into State Auditor Troy Kelley at the governor’s request.
Gov. Jay Inslee sent the attorney general a letter requesting the investigation, which will focus on Kelley’s decision to hire a longtime business associate, Jason JeRue, for a part-time remote job at the state auditor’s office.
Inslee’s letter said the public deserves assurance that “the work of the office during Mr. Kelley’s tenure was handled properly, particularly as relates to the employment of Mr. Jerue.”
Kelly was indicted by a federal grand jury in April on counts of tax evasion and stealing money. Federal investigators are looking into financial activities related to The Post Closing Department, Kelley’s former real estate transaction business in California. JeRue worked with Kelley at the company.
Ferguson said the state investigation into JeRue’s employment at the auditor’s office is separate from the federal indictment.
“My goal in this investigation will be to provide needed transparency regarding employment of Mr. JeRue,” Ferguson said at a press conference Tuesday.
The investigation will focus on compliance with state law and begin immediately, he said. After the investigation, the attorney general’s office will decide if legal action is required.
“We’re going into the investigation with an open mind,” Ferguson said.
To launch a criminal investigation, the attorney general’s office must receive a request from the governor or a county prosecutor. Ferguson said the governor’s letter late Monday “did not come as a surprise.”
Kelley has dismissed calls for his resignation from Gov. Inslee and several other state officials. The auditor took an unpaid leave of absence in May and designated authority of the office to director of operations Jan Jutte.
Jutte terminated JeRue’s employment on her first day taking control of the auditor’s office. She released a statement Tuesday saying she welcomes the attorney general’s investigation.