Complaint targets Port of Kennewick commissioner

Allegations that a commissioner improperly billed the Port of Kennewick for professional services will be considered behind closed doors by the board today.

A complaint alleging that longtime port Commissioner David Hanson, who is the board's vice president, billed the port and some of the clients of his contract lobbying firm for the same expenses prompted port officials to hire a Seattle law firm to conduct an outside investigation, said Commission Chairman Skip Novakovich in a prepared statement issued Monday.

Hanson refused to comment about the specifics of the investigation, but said, "this has been going on since October."

Commissioners plan to meet in a closed session after the board's2 p.m. open meeting to receive a report from a representative from the K&L Gates law firm about the investigation's results.

Hanson said he expects to attend the closed session, and said he would recuse himself from any decisions or votes. He said Monday night that he didn't know the port had sent out a news release about the meeting.

Hanson's lobbying firm, Hanson Consulting Services, has done work for Benton PUD, Chelan PUD and Washington Public Utility Districts Association, Novakovich said, adding that an outside review was done to make sure the commissioners' involvement was minimal.

Novakovich said in his statement that once the verbal report is received, the information will be forwarded to the state auditor for review.

"We will ask the state to conduct the review as quickly as possible, knowing the importance of disclosing the results," he said.

The port's news release did not cite a reason for the closed meeting under the state's Open Public Meetings Act.

Hanson is a retired Benton PUD engineer. He has served on the port commission since 2002.

The port commission meeting will be at 350 Clover Island Drive. The full agenda is posted at www.portofkennewick.org.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com