Gov. Gary Locke said Tuesday he will put most of his stock in a blind trust, but acknowledged that the public isn’t necessarily going to be better served by his decision.
Locke said the maneuver will leave all investment decisions to a trustee who will keep Locke in the dark about what he owns and what is sold.
It also will remove any appearance of a conflict of interest between what Locke owns and what he does as governor.
But in a news conference, the Democrat, who has relatively modest stock holdings, observed that the public also will be blind to what he owns.
Is that good policy?
Not always, he said. He noted that when former Gov. Booth Gardner’s massive wealth was placed in a blind trust, it removed it from public scrutiny or discussion even though “everybody still knew” Gardner had a huge position in Weyerhaeuser as an heir to the fortune.
But Locke said that on balance, it made sense for him to put his Washington holdings, worth at least $126,000 in January, into a blind trust to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The question of whether the governor’s policy-making was self-serving arose last month after the Seattle Post-Intelligencer made a connection between Locke’s ownership of $50,000 in Microsoft Corp. stock and his support for a tax break sought by the giant software maker.
Locke then denied any bias and said he had also vetoed tax legislation favored by businesses in which he owns stock.
He said part of the decision to put the money in a blind trust stemmed from a desire by himself and his wife, Mona Lee Locke, to turn over investments to a trained investor to be sure money is set aside for their infant daughter’s education and the couple’s retirement.
Locke declined to identify his trustee or provide details of his arrangement with that trustee.
According to his annual financial affairs statement filed in January, Locke also owned shares in Northwest-based Boeing Co., Nike, Nordstrom and Starbucks.
Also Tuesday, Locke said the first family has encountered no bats since their return to the governor’s mansion a week ago. They had moved out for five days while workers stuffed steel wool in holes and installed screens to keep bats out. The family had been haunted by bats since they moved into the mansion in January, and at one point underwent rabies vaccinations as a precaution.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.