As the new year dawns, Sammamish City Council will decide whether to take action against City Manager Dave Rudat for passing confidential information about city business to his daughter, who is not a city employee.
The council has been conducting an internal ethics investigation of Rudat since May, hiring outside legal counsel to conduct interviews and reviewing findings behind lengthy, closed-door executive sessions. As of Dec. 14, the sessions have lasted nearly 30 hours in total.
In a 4-3 vote on Nov. 16, with councilmembers Tom Odell, Kent Treen, and Pamela Stuart dissenting, the council decided to give Rudat notice of a 30-day unpaid suspension for failing to adequately safeguard confidential information and for allowing himself to be improperly influenced by others. In an earlier motion, Odell and Stuart voted to fire Rudat outright.
Rudat was hired as city manager in June 2020, after serving in an interim capacity for four months prior. He also held family connections in Sammamish through his daughter, Stephanie Rudat, a politically active resident and prominent supporter of the current anti-development council majority on social media.
According to a summary of the investigative report obtained by the Sammamish Independent, Rudat disclosed the city’s attorney-client privileged information regarding the city’s legal disputes in “venting” and “dinner table conversations” during a period when he lived with his daughter. He also allowed his daughter to “eavesdrop” on communications that Rudat was having with the city attorney, city council members and other city staff, often without the other party’s knowledge. Confidential information was shared during these meetings.
His daughter, Stephanie, then went on to share this information with those outside of the city hall, including Miki Mullor, a local blogger.
The report concluded that Rudat “failed to effectively safeguard City attorney-client privileged communications, and that these communications were overheard and further disseminated by” his daughter.
In addition, Rudat tapped Stephanie to help him in his work by compiling research and ghost writing his email statements to city staff.
With the Nov. 16 city council meeting came the first public mention of this taxpayer-funded investigation and city council votes on what to do with the findings. A first motion to fire Rudat failed 2-5. However, a second motion to suspend him for 30 days did pass, with implementation on hold until Rudat can respond to the allegations.
Rudat was given until Nov. 30 to submit his response. He then requested to extend the deadline until Dec. 13, which the council granted.
Having submitted a written response on the day of the deadline, Rudat proceeded to give a spirited verbal defense at the Dec. 14 council meeting. Rudat asserted that any sharing of confidential information was inadvertent on his part — a result of being forced to work from his daughter’s home by COVID-19.
Rudat went on to accuse Mullor of holding a vendetta against him, as well as various city council members, including Odell and Christie Malchow, of being unduly influenced by Mullor. He blamed those factors for the launch of this investigation, referring to the inquiry as a “witch hunt.”
The council decide to table any action until Jan. 4, due to the upcoming holidays and a request made by Rudat for a public hearing.
Two new council members, Kali Clark and Karen Howe, will get a chance to decide Rudat’s fate when they join the council in the new year. Amy Lam, who was also newly elected to council this cycle, was sworn in on Nov. 24.