Gary Locke is in the news again.
The local media has been abuzz with stories about Locke's deputy in the U.S. Department of Commerce, Fred Stephens, ex-boss of Silas Potter, the former Seattle Public Schools employee who awarded bogus contracts to a select group of people resulting in a $1.8 million loss for the district.
Stephens, who served under Locke when he was governor of Washington, left SPS—where he was facilities director—to follow Locke to D.C. When the news of the district's financial scandal broke, Locke didn't have much to say about Stephens, although a state audit found he failed to provide oversight over Potter.
Specifically, the audit found that when district attorney Ron English raised concerns about Potter presenting an inaccurate picture about the small business program's accomplishments to the board, Stephens said that it was important for the program to "look good." Eakes' report found that nothing was ever done to correct the information and present it to the board.
Potter told The Seattle Times that he was not responsible for the district's financial loss, blaming Stephens and English instead. Both Stephens and English dismissed Potter's allegations. Stephens said Potter was just shifting the blame on him, while English said two investigations had revealed that he "did what he could to bring Silas Potter's activities to light."
One of the investigations by private attorney Patricia Eakes found that Stephens had enough "warning signs" to stop Potter from carrying out his fraudulent activities, but failed to do anything. With the news of Locke's pending appointment, the blogosphere has started questioning why Stephens is still with the Commerce Department despite being faulted for his management skills in the audit, and whether Locke's impending departure means he will follow suit.