James West recall (2005)

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James West, then mayor of Spokane, Washington was recalled in 2005 after becoming the target of a sting operation by the Spokesman Review. The newspaper revealed in 2005 a series of sex-abuse charges against West. West was recalled during a special election held on December 6, 2005 and officially stripped of his duties as mayor ten days later.

Following the results of the election, the Associated Press quoted West as saying, "I said I'd abide by the will of the voters, obviously, and they've spoken. I'm at peace with their decision -- and disappointed."[1]

Allegations

In early 2005 the Spokesman Review released a series of articles that alleged that West was a closeted homosexual, visited gay chat rooms on his city-owned computer and offered favors to young men in return for sex. Additionally, the newspaper printed allegations by two men with criminal backgrounds who said they had been sexually molested by West in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[2]

Investigation

A criminal investigation was not launched since the statute of limitations had already expired. West denied all of the allegations by the Spokesman Review.

On May 10, 2005 the U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane confirmed that the FBI opened a preliminary inquiry into a possible "public corruption" case against West.[3] Ten months later the FBI ended its investigation of West and announced that there was insufficient proof to charge West under a "very narrow" federal public corruption law. "Our probe determined federal criminal charges were not warranted," said Special Counsel Mark Bartlett. "But our investigation did not address whether Jim West's activities were ethical, moral or appropriate." [4]

Recall

Four days after the newspaper printed the first article on May 5, 2005, Shannon Sullivan, a Spokane citizen with no prior legal experience, filed the first recall petition, which was later rejected because of a procedural error. She filed a second petition 10 days later.

On May 31,2005 the Spokane city council unanimously voted in favor of calling for West's immediate resignation. On June 2, the Spokane County Republican Party, Washington State Republican Party, and Spokane County Democratic Chairwoman Katie Kirking called for West's resignation.

On August 24, 2005 the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the recall petitions could be circulated and by December 6, 2005, voters recalled West. Approximately 17,000 signatures were collected. According to state records, approximately 65% of voters voted in favor of the recall and 35% voted against. The recall marked the first time in city history that a sitting mayor was voted out of office.

Following the recall and the end of the FBI investigation, West said, "There was a mob mentality created by the local newspaper." West described the FBI investigation as the "only independent investigation, the only investigation without an ax to grind and the only investigation without political motivation." [5] The recall was

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