Today's loser: King County interim Sheriff Steve Strachan. 

The King County Auditor's Office released a damning report outlining serious problems within  the King County Sheriff's department this morning. The audit focused largely on the department's internal investigations unit, which, the audit found, is unable to initiate an internal investigation without a formal complaint from a citizen or commander.[pullquote]John Urquhart, a longtime spokesman for the sheriff's office who retired and is running against Strachan in November, issued a statement condemning Strachan's "lack of leadership and accountability."[/pullquote]

The audit also found that the department's police-conduct policies are inconsistent and ineffective---often failing, for example, to promptly notify internal investigations in cases of officer-involved shootings---and that numerous low-level complaint cases remain unaccounted for. The audit also notes that the sheriff's office has received no formal use-of-force training for the past 11 years.

In a statement, interim King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, who is up for reelection in November, said he welcomed the audit's findings and said he was already at work implementing some of the auditor's 16 recommended changes in the department. “The report confirms that we are paying attention to the right things, we are making progress, and we have more work to do as we take our department to the next level.”

However, members of the King County Council, which appointed Strachan unanimously to fill former sheriff Sue Rahr's position in April 2012, expressed dismay at the findings. Council member Bob Ferguson said the audit "reveals alarming shortcomings in the Sheriff’s Office internal investigation processes and accountability systems that are unacceptable. The public expects and deserves better."

Ferguson's colleague, Julia Patterson, said she was "greatly disappointed by the results of today’s audit report, especially ­­­­­­­­­the finding that the Sheriff and the department’s Internal Investigation Unit cannot initiate an investigation without a formal complaint being filed by a citizen or commander. Our Internal Investigation Unit should be able to be proactive and investigate without being directed by a third party.”

John Urquhart, a longtime spokesman for the sheriff's office who retired and is running against Strachan in November, issued a preemptive statement yesterday condemning Strachan's "lack of leadership and accountability."

Today's winner: Secretary of State candidate Greg Nickels.

Secretary of state candidate (and former Seattle mayor) Greg Nickels got a nod over the weekend from Aurora Medical Services director Deborah Oyer, who did a robo-call supporting Nickels as the pro-choice candidate in his race. (Nickels' fellow frontrunner for the open seat is Kathleen Drew, a longtime aide to outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire who has been endorsed by both NOW and the state Women's Political Caucus).

In her message, Oyer touts Nickels' 100-percent pro-choice rating and endorsement from NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, adding: "The Secretary of State plays an important role in the integrity of our elections, and who we elect can play a role in the health of women across Washington State. Greg believes that special-interest money threatens our fair, unbiased Washington elections."

Oyer says she made the robo-call as an individual, not on behalf of Aurora or any pro-choice political group.
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