OLYMPIA, Wash.--An investigation into whether the executive director of the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign Committee took political funds for his own benefit was prompted by unusual polling expenses after the 2012 election.
"This is what triggered the whole situation. During the campaign, we had all these reimbursements for things like polling and auto dialing. Those are normal expenses you would expect during the peak of the campaign," said Jason Bennett, a partner at Argo Strategies, who was in charge of compliance for the committee.
"But then they continued in December and January."
Bennett said he reported that information to leadership Feb. 20. It then launched an investigation into handling of the committee's funds by Michael King, the executive director.
Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, or SDCC, leaders said they were stunned by the news.
"I can tell you, I'm devastated. I'm very upset by everything," said state Sen. David Frockt, a co-chairman of the committee."
Investigators are now trying to match the SDCC's records of expenditures with vendors to determine how far back discrepancies may go.
King joined the SDCC in 2011. He did not respond to messages left on his cell phone. His attorney said the 31-year-old is in an area hospital.
"On the advice of his physician and with the support of his family, Michael is currently seeking inpatient treatment for personal issues that he is committed to working through and overcoming," attorney Lyle Tenpenny said.
"He intends to cooperate with the investigation, and looks forward to doing so after receiving this much-needed treatment."