Editorial: Big claim hurts credibility

Even to an insurance company, $300,000 isn’t peanuts. And the fact that Island County’s insurance group paid that much to settle an employee’s claim against Prosecutor Greg Banks hurts his credibility and makes the public question the efficacy of his office.

In a nutshell, a deputy prosecutor new to the job last summer claimed Banks pressured her to endorse his candidacy for reelection, and when she refused he took punitive action against her.

Banks denied her allegations, but they seemed plenty credible in the eyes of the county’s insurance pool which didn’t want to risk losing even more than $300,000 in a trial.

Banks’ problems weren’t limited to this one employee. All six of his deputy prosecutors that worked in that period endorsed his opponent, Steve Selby, in the election. Selby ran a poor campaign and Banks won the November vote, but that doesn’t mean he’s no longer answerable to the public.

Since the election, all of the deputy prosecutors but one have gone on to other jobs and at least four support staff members have quit as well. This “revolving door” of staff, which was one of Selby’s chief complaints about the office, is harmful to the efficiency of justice.

Having just started another four-year term, Banks has time to right his ship. He claims to have the support of his new staff and that morale in his office is good. If true, that’s a positive thing because the people of Island County need a prosecutor that is at the top of his game, devoting all of his time to meting out justice to criminals rather than playing the villain in his own office soap opera.

The public is willing to give Banks a fresh start, but it won’t soon forget the $300,000 settlement.

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