Council Member Jonathan Bingle Files Complaint against Continuum of Care Board Chair

Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226

Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 8:11 a.m.

Councilmember Jonathan Bingle filed a formal ethics complaint today against Continuum of Care (CoC) Board Chair and former City Council President Ben Stuckart via the CoC Board and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development–the agencies that govern the CoC Board, for improper actions during a shelter proposal review process.

“The appearance of impropriety by elected or appointed officials’ casts doubt on the fairness of government. The citizens of Spokane deserve to know that the process to select a new shelter has integrity and that their hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being stewarded appropriately,” said Councilmember Jonathan Bingle, who filed the official complaints.

The complaints state CoC Chair Ben Stuckart, who was named as the project manager for Jewels Helping Hands (JHH) with a salary of over $150,000, participated in a board discussion on April 15 about which proposal to recommend. Although Stuckart reportedly recused himself from the vote on the proposals, the complaint alleges that his continued participation in discussions regarding the proposals violated the CoC’s Conflict of Interest Policy.

Stuckart has a well-documented history of ethics trouble and past allegations of conflicts of interest. In 2021, the Washington State Auditor reported that as Spokane City Council President, Stuckart may have violated city conflict of interest ordinances when he allegedly helped steer a city contract to Jewels Helping Hands in 2019. The 2021 audit also stated that JHH was considered “high risk” by the city due to an unclear relationship with the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund.

In 2014, Stuckart was subject to an ethics complaint and later fined $250 by the City’s Ethics Commission after admitting he forwarded confidential information to the Spokane Firefighters Union amid a pending legal matter between the City and a union official.

“It is deeply troubling that the Chair of the Board [Stuckart], who stands to benefit from a six-figure salary as a project manager for one of the providers who has submitted a proposal for review, was a part of discussions about which proposal should be recommended. This gives an appearance of impropriety at best and corruption at worst,” said Councilmember Bingle.  “I hope that all governing agencies thoroughly and swiftly review this matter. To restore the public’s trust, immediate and appropriate action must be taken to address these severe allegations of conflicts of interest and potentially unethical actions of Ben Stuckart.”