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Open government group seeks Coulee Dam probe

— The Washington Coalition for Open Government has called on local and state officials to investigate the alleged disappearance of a town computer and all emails sent and received by former Coulee Dam Mayor Quincy Snow.

Snow, who was the town’s mayor for 16 years, was defeated in November by challenger Greg Wilder.

Wilder, who took office Jan. 1, told the Washington Coalition for Open Government that a town computer previously used by the former mayor is missing from a town hall storage room.

Snow said “in July, mine fried so I took it out and gave it to the chief of police to surplus.”

Snow said he installed a new computer that he had been using since July.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Snow said of Wilder.

“I’m not computer savvy, so I don’t know what he’s talking about. I left him a user name and password to unlock it and use it.”

According to Wilder, a new computer purchased before Snow left office has no application software installed and all its file folders are empty.

All backups of the emails are also missing from the town’s servers, Wilder said. Wilder said the town now has no record of any of Snow’s email correspondence as mayor or any other public records that were stored on the mayor’s computer.

Wilder said he has asked the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter.

Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal could not be reached for comment.

“The Washington Coalition for Open Government is deeply concerned about Wilder’s report,” President Toby Nixon said. “The potential theft or destruction of public records such as official email messages could be a felony under state law.”

At a minimum, Nixon said the public deserves an explanation for the missing computer and records.

“State law requires all communications like those to and from the mayor to be retained and transferred to the state archives for assessment and archival storage,” he said.

Nixon said the transition in Coulee Dam town government was particularly abrupt.

After Wilder won office and two of his supporters were elected to the town council, the town’s clerk resigned.

According to Wilder, Snow declined to have a transition meeting with him, even though the state auditor’s office offered to oversee one.

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