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State probing NASCAR recruitment
Two detectives from the Washington State Patrol will be looking into allegations that a Kitsap County employee violated public records law and failed to retain copies of certain documents while working to recruit the proposed NASCAR track to Kitsap County. The detectives are acting on orders from the state Attorney Generals office.
While Kitsap County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Tim Drury said everything surrounding the case is complete conjecture, the investigation is expected to take a few weeks.
The investigation stems from an incident that occurred 18 months ago, in which county employees allegedly failed to keep a copy of a map that was requested by Kitsap Economic Development Council Executive Director David Porter. The allegation also contends that a record of the request was not properly submitted, which violates certain requirements.
At the time, Porter was assembling transportation data for a proposal designed to lure the International Speedway Corp. to Kitsap County. The ISC initially chose a Snohomish County site over Kitsap.
The Snohomish location fell through last year, and the ISC announced its selection of Kitsap as an alternative site for the 85,000-seat raceway two weeks ago.
Porter required the county employees to sign non-disclosure statements, which legally prevented them from discussing the proposed facility. He said this is a common practice for many of his contacts.
The material they gave me wasnt sensitive, Porter said. But the fact that I was asking for it was.
While Porter said he would feel bad if the employees were criminally prosecuted, he feels his need for privacy is justified.
They should have saved the copies, he said. But the need for confidentiality is a common practice. Developers dont want to let other people know what theyre doing.
Porter said someone could see that he was making a certain request and file a Freedom of Information request to determine its contents. At that time, his client, the ISC, would make its intentions known.
Doing business with public agencies is a challenge for anyone who is working in economic development, he said. There are things that we do that arent anyone elses business.
Drury said an investigation could find no laws were violated and the employee in question had no intention of committing a crime. On the other hand, the suspect could face felony charges and a jail term.
In the case of the latter, Drury said the defendant would most likely be responsible for his or her own defense, because court costs would not be paid by the county.
Indianola activist Charles Burrow, whose e-mail to North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen triggered the investigative process, said he did not expect his efforts to cause such a firestorm.
I didnt really think through the consequences, he said. I was just looking to get records that should