State Auditor Troy Kelley is back at work in Olympia, a day after four legislators signaled their intent to impeach the indicted official in January.
Kelley has been on unpaid leave since May while facing federal charges of tax evasion, stealing money and lying under oath. Kelley maintains he is innocent of the charges, which are tied to his former real estate services business.
In a written statement announcing his return to work on Tuesday, Kelley said he “will not back down in the face of political pressure and a false indictment.”
Kelley took aim at the legislators who announced on Monday they have filed a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings in January. The auditor says he took the leave of absence “upon the request of the same legislators who are now attempting an impeachment based on the sole fact that I did what they asked me to do — take leave without pay.”
The impeachment resolution filed by two Democrats and two Republicans charges Kelley with abandoning his office, delegating authority to an unelected official and betraying the public trust. Longtime staffer Jan Jutte has lead the office during Kelley’s absence.
Gov. Jay Inslee‘s spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, called Kelley’s return to work “troubling.” The governor and several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for Kelley to resign.
Smith said the auditor’s office “should remain free from the distractions and drama of Troy Kelley’s legal challenges.” She praised acting auditor Jutte, saying Kelley’s return will “disrupt the very important work she and her team are doing.”