A company that sued state Rep. Troy Kelley is willing to disclose the amount Kelley paid to settle the dispute, but the Tacoma lawmaker is declining the offer, saying another company would have to agree.
Kelley signed the deal in 2011 with his former client, Old Republic Title. The company had paid him to track and process mortgage deeds, then accused him of trying to keep $3.8 million in money he should have refunded to property owners.
More than a year later, Kelley is the Democratic Party’s candidate for state auditor, and his Republican opponent James Watkins has aired those and other allegations from court files. But Kelley says such lawsuits are the cost of doing business and that the accusations in the case were without merit and politically motivated.
“He could certainly prove that fact by disclosing the amount, if in fact he’s telling the truth,” said Old Republic attorney Scott Smith, who said he would make the entire settlement agreement public if Kelley agrees.
Kelley, a lawyer, said he’s “not going to subject myself to bar discipline by attempting to disclose that.”
“And plus, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I’ve done hundreds of settlements and all of them have a confidentiality clause in them.”
The parties to the case were Old Republic, Kelley, his wife, and two companies Kelley has reported owning entirely. Smith said only Kelley and an Old Republic representative signed the settlement agreement.
Kelley’s campaign said additional documents show that the insurance company that covered his business and paid part of the settlement was a party to the agreement, and that Kelley cannot release those documents publicly. The insurer could not be reached for comment.
“There were multiple settlements, multiple parties including a business insurance provider, and multiple confidentiality agreements involved in this case,” Kelley said in a statement Friday. “Releasing only one would not provide a clear and whole picture of the issue.”
If all parties were to agree to disclosure, there appears to be no reason why the attorneys involved would face professional discipline.
“There’s nothing that we’re aware of that would ... at least from the bar’s perspective, prevent a party from agreeing to make something public if all parties agreed,” Washington State Bar Association spokeswoman Debra Carnes said.
Kelley said he also is worried about releasing personal information that could be in the documents. Smith said they do not contain any personal information.