Charges: State Dem. leader used campaign funds for gambling, booze

SEATTLE -- The former executive director of the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign Committee embezzled up to $300,000 of campaign contributions to fund his gambling and drinking problems, according to charges filed against Michael King this month.

According to the Seattle Police Department, King was made executive director of the committee, which helped state Democrats win election to the Washington State Senate, on March 1, 2011, putting him in charge of campaign donations from PACs, companies and citizens.

While the executive director position did not original include check-signing privileges, King wasted no time requesting and getting those privileges, according to police.

From March 28, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2013, King stole between $250,000 and $300,000 worth of campaign contributions, hiding the thefts by recording them as reimbursements for polling, personal expenses and bonuses, according to charges filed by the King County Prosecutor's Office.

"I think a lot of us feel very betrayed," said State Sen. David Frockt, one of three committee co-chairs. "This was a trusted employee; someone who many of us were friends with."

According to police, King aroused suspicion when he recorded significant payments to online polling and auto-dialing companies after the November 2012 elections, when such services would not really be needed.

A subsequent investigation showed King spent thousands of dollars on unnecessary polling and deposited large amounts of money into his own bank account, according to police.

According to the charging documents, King admitted to stealing the funds this June, saying, "I did these things and I have to accept the consequences, and I do."

According to police, King said he stole the money to fund his drinking and gambling problems, and records show dozens of withdrawals made at Goldie's Casino in Shoreline, the Tulalip Casino in Marysville and the Silver Dollar Casino in SeaTac.

King has been charged with eight counts of theft and is scheduled for arraignment early next month.

Meanwhile, Frockt says they've made changes to make sure this never happens again.

"We have independent and better financial oversight and I think that's the main thing. Clearly there were some systemic failures or breakdowns in our system and we've corrected those."