Ethics complaint filed against Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton

Ethics complaint filed against Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton
City of Spokane

A formal ethics complaint has been filed against Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton alleging a letter she wrote to the City of Pasco “co-mingles” with her personal business interests.

The complaint, filed by Neil Muller, includes a letter Stratton sent to the Pasco City Council in June of 2018 regarding economic opportunities provided by marijuana retailers like Lucky Leaf.

Stratton and her husband own a marijuana farm south of Cheney in Spangle.

In the letter, Stratton wrote, “My experience with these businesses is personal in that we own a producer farm in Cheney, Washington. That said, on a political level I am keenly aware of the positive impacts cannabis businesses can have in a community.”

Muller’s complaint states the Ethics Commission should look into whether the letter, which was written on City of Spokane letterhead, should be considered a conflict of interest.

The complaint comes as Stratton and her husband find themselves dealing with a bankruptcy case directly related to their involvement in the industry.

Stratton, who is currently up for re-election, recently received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Lucky Leaf LLC. Stratton said the donation came a year after the letter was written.

“I have received other contributions this year from the industry. These recent contributions fit a pattern of marijuana licenses contributing to candidates who are friendly to the 502 industry,” Stratton told 4 News Now in an email. “Our family farm cannot, by law, sell directly to retailers so there has never been a financial benefit to our business.”

Stratton said she first heard of the issue on a Facebook page belonging to the Spokane Republican party, who posted a copy of the 2018 letter.

Stratton also said the timing of the complaint gives her indication this is a political move by her opponent, Andy Rathbun.

“The press received a copy of the complaint before I did. In fact, I just got a copy of the complaint this afternoon. It was also posted on the City website before I received a copy,” said Stratton.

Stratton said she is more than willing to meet with the Ethics Commission regarding the complaint. She said the September commission meeting has been canceled, so it probably will not be on their agenda until October.

4 News Now reached out to Neil Muller by phone and by email, but he has not returned our messages.