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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Top city administrator fined $75 for ethics violation

Spokane Mayor David Condon’s top administrator has acknowledged violating the city ethics code rule barring dishonesty.

At issue are answers given by Spokane City Administrator Theresa Sanders and city spokesman Brian Coddington in interviews with The Spokesman-Review in the weeks and hours before police Chief Frank Straub was forced out of office Sept. 22.

Mayoral candidate Shar Lichty filed a complaint with the city Ethics Commission against Sanders and Coddington, alleging that they violated the ethics code barring dishonesty relating to their duties.

Sanders denied knowing about any hostilities between Monique Cotton, a former Spokane police spokeswoman, and Straub when Sanders transferred Cotton to the city’s Parks Department in May. In a later interview, Sanders acknowledged she knew of problems between the two.

The commission unanimously ruled Wednesday that allegations by Lichty against Coddington were groundless.

But it also ruled in a 6-0 vote that if Lichty’s allegation about Sanders is true, it would violate the code. The next step would have been to schedule a hearing, but Sanders, who was present at the meeting, agreed to acknowledge violating the code and pay a $75 fine as part of a cease and desist order, said assistant city attorney Mike Piccolo. The commission’s order, which is expected to be finalized next month, will prohibit Sanders from discussing Straub’s firing with the media or public.

Coddington declined to comment on the ruling, and pointed to his letter to the commission outlining his defense.

Sanders did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

In her letter to the Ethics Commission, Sanders said she should have said nothing when asked about the reason for Cotton’s transfer.

“Mostly, I regret ever having discussed the matter with the media as I needn’t have, shouldn’t have, and certainly will not in the future,” Sanders wrote.

Lichty said Thursday that she was satisfied and believes the outcome holds Sanders accountable.