Kennewick Mayor reacts to termination by Department of Social and Health Services

Kennewick Mayor Don Britain is speaking out about his termination from the Department of Social and Health Services.

According to a press release sent by DSHS, Britain was under investigation for employee misconduct after an anonymous complaint. Washington State Patrol led the investigation because they’re contracted with DSHS.

On Oct. 28, Britain was told he was fired from his position at the Community Services Office in Kennewick. He worked for DSHS for more than 20 years.

“I’m very terribly disappointed in the department’s decision to terminate me,” Britain said. “It’s one policy violation and their determination that it should rise to the level of termination is very disappointing to me.”

Britain told 4 News Now partner KAPP-KVEW he provided goods and services to clients outside of work.

“I’ve taken it upon myself to assist some of my clients over the years with needed services — car repairs, temporary housing, put them up in hotels, clothes, baby clothes,” he explained.

He said he did it out of his own pocket and didn’t tell his boss. Britain said he got nothing in return and never gave money, just provided services.

“My own fault in that is that I didn’t report it to my supervisor over the last several years, which is a violation of that policy,” Britain said. “I freely admit that.”

According to David Stillman, assistant secretary for the agency’s Economic Services Administration, he stated in the press release “I am deeply disappointed by this former employee’s willful violations of our agency’s policies.”

“It’s not surprising considering the leadership of Dave Stillman at DSHS,” he said. “Morale in the department is very low.”

Britain says he didn’t do anything criminal, fraudulent, nor had any type of sexual relationship with a client.

He has contacted outside legal counsel regarding what he says is a violation of privacy and confidentiality.

“Halfway through that investigation, I was contacted by a local TV reporter asking about this investigation. That concerned me because it supposed to be a private, confidential investigation,” he said. “How the media became aware of that during that investigation is a problem.”

He’s also seeking out options regarding a grievance.

“The agency violated our CBA, our articles within that and the notification of the disciplinary meeting,” Britain said. “They violated that, and so we’re exploring a grievance on that.”

With regard to the anonymous complaint, Britain told KAPP-KVEW he has a good idea who made the complaint. He said the person who he believes made the complaint wanted to cause professional and personal harm.

“To my fellow DSHS employees, I sympathize with you,” he said. “I understand the poor leadership we have at the state level and the regional level and how we have suffered as employees. We don’t feel appreciated.”

Britain said this has nothing to do with his position as mayor and it will not affect his work with the city.

KAPP-KVEW reached out to WSP about the investigation and was referred to DSHS.