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the fbi investigation

On Feb. 16, 2006, the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office for Western Washington issued a press release (pdf file) announcing the end of its 10-month probe into allegations of public corruption by Mayor Jim West. "We did not find facts that would justify initiating federal criminal charges," said First Assistant United States Attorney Mark Bartlett.

The announcement detailed the investigation's specific focus:

"In a potential public corruption case such as this, the government would have to prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. The government would have to prove that West specifically intended to defraud citizens of their intangible right to honest services. The central allegation was that the mayor denied citizens 'honest services' by providing city hall jobs or internships in exchange for sex. The investigation uncovered no evidence that had occurred. A review of city records reveals that virtually every person who applied for an internship with the city was offered a position. There was no indication that West had improperly assisted any potential employees or interns."

"It is important to remember the limited scope of the federal investigation," Bartlett noted. "Our probe determined federal criminal charges were not warranted. Our investigation did not address whether Jim West's activities were ethical, moral or appropriate."

The Spokesman-Review picked up on that point in its coverage of the announcement, calling the federal public corruption law "very narrow."

Jim West, recalled from office two months earlier, said the FBI investigation vindicated him and his contention that any internships or city hall jobs he offered were not in exchange for sex. The Spokesman-Review rejected West's call for an apology, saying it stood behind its reporting.

The city of Spokane conducted its own investigation into West's internship program and his use of city-owned computers. Led by a Seattle attorney, that investigation concluded (pdf) that West had violated state law when he offered Ryan Oelrich a position on Spokane's Human Rights Commission. However, no charges were ever filed.

Jim West died of complications from surgery for colon cancer on July 22, 2006.

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posted nov. 14, 2006

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