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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ethics Commission again declines charges brought against Mayor Condon

FILE - Joe Shogan, former Spokane City Council president. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - Joe Shogan, former Spokane City Council president. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Former City Council President Joe Shogan had his ethics complaint against Mayor David Condon tossed once again Wednesday, though he pledged he’d make one more attempt to get a hearing.

“If you were a civilian, you’d have given up by now,” Shogan said Thursday, a day after the city’s Ethics Commission dismissed his second complaint alleging dishonesty in the mayor’s public statements following the ouster of former Police Chief Frank Straub.

Shogan was one of several individuals and organizations, including Spokane’s chapter of the National Organization of Women, who filed ethics complaints in the months following a news conference in which Condon said there were no sexual harassment complaints lodged against the police chief. Public records released after that news conference – and after Condon’s re-election – revealed former department spokeswoman Monique Cotton had arranged a meeting with Condon and her attorney, Bob Dunn, to discuss alleged sexual harassment months before the news conference. Cotton demanded confidentiality in that meeting.

James King, the attorney representing Condon, told members of the volunteer Ethics Commission that Shogan’s most recent claim offered no new information than several other cases that have previously been dismissed by the panel or by the superior court judge who tossed a recall effort against Condon last summer.

“It is time for this matter to be put away,” said King, who called Shogan’s complaint a “recycled version” of filings the ethics commission had already ruled on. Two others were dismissed, and Condon negotiated a settlement with the National Organization of Women that has city officials revising harassment policies with the help of the organization.

Shogan argued the panel never heard from Condon or current City Council President Ben Stuckart, who claimed the mayor lied in a Spokesman-Review article following the release of public records.

“You never got to the meat of the complaint,” Shogan told the panel, before they ruled 3-to-1 to dismiss the claim citing a lack of the specifity required under city code to initiate an ethics complaint.

Shogan said that specificity would be provided by Stuckart, and he intended to file one more complaint to address the issues. Dennis Cronin, a private Spokane attorney serving as chairman of the Ethics Commission, declined an interview after the meeting.

Condon, in interviews and through King in the hearing on the recall effort, has maintained that he wasn’t dishonest in answering the question posed at the news conference because Cotton never filed a formal complaint against Straub. An independent investigation by federal attorney Kris Cappel, the findings of which were disputed by members of Condon’s administration, concluded the mayor “and certain members of his executive staff deliberately concealed Ms. Cotton’s sexual harassment allegations against (Straub).”

Stuckart said early Thursday afternoon he’d been contacted by Shogan, but wouldn’t say in an interview whether he’d be giving additional information to the Ethics Commission.

“Publicly, I’ve probably said all I’m going to say on this,” Stuckart said Thursday, noting an improved relationship with Condon over the past six months on major capital projects and other initiatives in the city.

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