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Democrats investigate campaign director

SEATTLE – The executive director of the Democrats’ state Senate campaign committee is being investigated after indications that he made improper expenditures using the group’s money, lawmakers said Saturday.

In a conference call with reporters, the senators said an investigation was launched this week into how Michael King handled certain campaign expenses.

The Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the state Senate, hired the Pacifica Law Group to spearhead the probe. It has also been in consultation with the King County prosecutor’s office and the Seattle Police Department.

Pacifica attorney Paul Lawrence says no charges have been filed.

An email and phone call to King were not immediately returned Saturday.

King has checked into a local area medical facility to seek treatment for personal problems, said his attorney, Lyle Tenpenny.

“He intends to cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to doing so after receiving this much-needed treatment. This is a very difficult time for him and his family and for now, he must focus on getting well,” Tenpenny said.

The alleged improper use of money was revealed after the committee’s staffer in charge of tracking expenses had concerns about excessive reimbursements, such as paying for polling after the November elections last year.

The group is chaired by state Sens. David Frockt, Sharon Nelson and Ed Murray – all of Seattle. All talked to reporters Saturday.

“This is a tragedy,” Murray said. “When he was hired before we came on, he was well-respected for political skills and well-liked.”

Local news blog PubliCola first reported the investigation Friday night.

The Seattle Times reported that the range of the improper spending is between $30,000 and $100,000. According to the Public Disclosure Commission, the SDCC raised $1.06 million and spent $1.02 million in 2012.

Leaders said on Saturday that their investigation will look at all expenditures under King’s tenure.

King began his work with the committee in 2011, according to the group’s site.

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