An expensive City of Seattle investigation to hunt for a police whistleblower has failed.
In a letter to the mayor today, Ethics and Elections Commission head Wayne Barnett said that after two months, the inquiry had "failed to yield any evidence pointing to the source of disclosure."
Barnett told me he's waiting on an invoice from private investigator Patty Eakes, but said the witch hunt will cost the city "in the ballpark of $65,000." Eakes was paid $325 per hour.
The Eakes investigation was launched after The Stranger published a confidential summary of the city's labor contract offer to the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) in June, offering the citizens of Seattle a view into the secret negotiations.
The new labor contract with the guild will have significant ramifications for the city's ability to protect the civil rights of residents and hold police accountable, according to federal judge James Robart.
The Department of Justice, City Attorney, and local police reformers believe the negotiations should be open to public scrutiny.
After the disclosure, Mayor Ed Murray issued a blustery statement, saying he was in talks with the FBI and vowing to expose the whistleblower. The FBI's Seattle bureau later told me it had reviewed the situation, but "there is no federal investigation underway."
Murray and Council Member Tim Burgess later filed a complaint, effectively asking Barnett to undertake the investigation.
But Barnett said this week that the private investigator found that "50 City officials, employees, and agents" had access to the document. Eakes interviewed council members and staff but turned up no hard evidence, "only an expanding list of suspects."
"I don't think it was a waste of money," Barnett told me over the phone this afternoon, saying he had no choice but to open an inquiry after the mayor's complaint. "You don't always find what you're looking for. It was what it was."