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Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Washington Auditor Troy Kelley’s pension under attack

OLYMPIA – Three Republican senators want to change Washington state law to keep embattled and absent Auditor Troy Kelley from upping his pension if he comes back from leave briefly and wants to make a “catch-up” payment.

It’s the latest effort to persuade Kelley, currently on indefinite leave while he tries to fight a federal indictment, to resign. 

Sen. Barbara Bailey, of Oak Harbor, chairwoman of the Pension Policy Committee, proposed a bill to prevent a statewide elected official under indictment and on unpaid leave from coming back to work and paying into the pension system the money that was withheld during his or her absence. Under current law, people on the state pension system in which Kelley participates can have their time off work counted toward the pension if they make a catch-up payment after they return.

That means Kelley could come back for one day after months away from the job, make a one-time payment and resign, said Bailey, Steve O’Ban, of University Place, and Mark Miloscia, of Federal Way. Asked why they think Kelley would do that, they pointed to “odd phrasing” in his announcement of taking a leave he would not accept pay or any benefits “through the duration of my leave.”

Earlier this week Kelley’s federal trial on fraud charges stemming from allegations that predate his election was delayed until January. Leaders of both the Senate and House have joined Gov. Jay Inslee in urging him to resign, but have said an impeachment process during the special session could get in the way of passing needed budgets.

Asked if Senate leaders had agreed to bring their pension bill to a vote, Bailey replied: “I think it’s realistic. I see no reason why they wouldn’t.”

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