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SDOT Director Scott Kubly violated ethics rules, settles with Seattle

SDOT director Scott Kubly. (AP)

An investigation into the conduct of Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly yielded two serious violations of city ethics rules. Kubly and the city have reached a settlement that will cost the director $5,000, as he admits he violated Seattle Ethics Code.

Despite the clear conflict of interest, Kubly didn’t seem interested in submitting a waiver for clearance to work on bringing the Pronto! bike-share program to Seattle. For this, he was found guilty of “participating in a city matter in which a prior employer has a financial interest.”

Related: Embarrassing, shocking implications in SDOT ethics complaint

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission investigation found that Kubly was given five separate prompts by various city officials to submit a waiver that would allow him to work on Pronto! which is owned and operated by the company where Kubly was once president. Early in this process to get him to comply with city rules, Kubly emailed himself answers to a conflict of interest form, but never to any city official.

Next, he was deeply involved in Seattle’s efforts to purchase Pronto! despite ample evidence that the service was unpopular and failing. He was advised to file a waiver and disclosure during these discussions and planning, but again, did not. As a result, he was found in violation of the law to file a disclosure form.

The Commission found that “[i]t could appear to a reasonable person, knowing the circumstances surrounding Kubly’s relationships, both personal and professional, that his judgment was impaired while officially participating in planning to acquire PRONTO bikeshare …” That’s an understatement and his lackadaisical attitude towards ethics rules cost taxpayers who split the bill for the time spent in this investigation.

Kubly was fined $10,000 but half was suspended as long as he doesn’t commit another material violation of the rules over the next two years (after two years, violate away, Kubly!).

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission must vote to accept or reject this settlement.

Though the Commission states the Kubly violations produced no evidence that he gained financially from these violations, this brings into question the vetting process before purchasing Pronto! As you recall, the Seattle City Council was given erroneous data on the service’s membership (Pronto said they had about 3,000 members, when they had about 1,900). It appears no one really cared about the membership data or the program’s success; they were just desperate to purchase the program no one uses so they can show their commitment to the bicycle activist community.

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