The line between stepping down and staying in office for Ed Murray

Jul 18, 2017, 5:48 AM | Updated: 12:22 pm
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, homeless programs...
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has recently faced multiple allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1980s. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Can Mayor Ed Murray do his job effectively? That’s the question city council members need to ask themselves after new evidence was revealed regarding allegations that he sexually abused minors in the 1980s.

Some council members are hesitant to cut Mayor Murray’s time in office short. But others such as Lorena Gonzalez have said that the council should consider convening if he does not resign.

Murray made it clear that he is not going anywhere.

“The political reality comes down to ‘Can you still do your job effectively?’” former State Attorney General Rob McKenna told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don. “Can you do your work as an elected official or is it an endless distraction for you and your entire agency?”

McKenna cannot speak specifically to Mayor Murray’s situation; there are a lot of legal factors to consider. But in any political case where a leader is under heavy scrutiny, he said that the line between stepping down and staying put is “effectively doing the job.”

In Murray’s case, do the accusations of sexual abuse 30 years ago amount to a resignation? After all, there are plenty of false allegations made in court.

The person in question is Jeff Simpson who was under the foster care of Murray in Portland. Now a man, he has publicly spoken about his relationship with Murray and the allegations of sexual abuse. He is one of four men to make such accusations about Murray in the 1980s.

Recent revelations about that foster care prompted council reaction.

In 1984, a child welfare investigator in Oregon concluded that Murray should not be allowed to be a foster parent following allegations of sexual abuse involving Simpson. It further concluded that the allegations were true. There was no case after that, however.

McKenna said that a prosecutor would have to take over the case after CPS. Without any corroborating evidence, officials have to depend on the credibility of the victim.

“… in order to get obtain conviction you would have to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused party,” McKenna said. “It’s a high standard and it should be a high standard because false accusations are sometimes made.”

Murray’s effective leadership

Fast forward to 2017, Murray is finishing out his final months as mayor amid the accusations of sexual abuse. It would depend on his ability to be an effective mayor if those final months are to be cut short. McKenna points to former State Auditor Troy Kelley, for example, who faced felony charges of mortgage fraud during his time in office.

“Auditor Kelley ultimately was acquitted in a felony trial, but it was impossible for him to do any effective work as an auditor and he should have resigned,” McKenna said. “He could not carry out his responsibilities he swore to carry out when he took the oath of office.”

“(Looking guilty) is a reason sometimes people won’t resign … (Kelley could have) seen it as an admission of guilt or wrongdoing,” McKenna said. “In fact, stepping aside from those responsibilities as a public officer can be one of the responsible things to do.”

Ron and Don

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The line between stepping down and staying in office for Ed Murray