Costly Report About Missing Texts From Outgoing Seattle Mayor During 2020 Protests In Limbo

A full report from a private contractor on missing text messages from outgoing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan over a period that covered the 2020 racial justice protests that took place in the city still hasn't been released over a year since the company was hired, according to The Associated Press.

The Crypsis Group was hired by the city attorney's office to evaluate why the texts were not recorded and kept as they should have been in accordance with city and state law to help the city's defense in multiple lawsuits over how the protests were handled.

Spokespeople for the city attorney's office and Durkan's office said they had no information to share this week as to when the report could be released, five months after the city attorney's office said it was planning to share the report, according to The Seattle Times.

Crypsis, which has billed the city more than $400,000 to this point, was hired in November 2020 to investigate what happened to the messages that weren't retained from August 2019 to June 2020, a legal issue the mayor's office was aware of in August 2020.

However, the news of the hiring of a private contractor and the alleged improper retention of digital records were not made public until the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission released a whistleblower report of their investigation in May.

Mark Lindquist, an attorney representing a woman in one of the lawsuits facing the city over the protests, told The Seattle Times if the texts can't be recovered, it could have a serious impact on the pending lawsuits.

Lindquist said with no way for the city to prove otherwise, he and other attorneys could request that juries make the assumption that because they could have been intentionally deleted, the messages likely would have reflected poorly on the city's leaders.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Seattle, Jenny Durkan, 2020 Protests
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (R) speaks at a press conference while Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best (L) looks on after she announced her resignation at Seattle City Hall on August 11, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. A report on missing texts from Durkan, including from during the 2020, protests still has not been released over a year after a private contractor was hired to investigate the issue. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

The Crypsis Group has continued to bill the city for its work and had been paid $407,000 as of Nov. 29. The city attorney's office said that's up from $201,000 as of July 31.

"I don't have any additional details to share at this point," said Dan Nolte, a spokesperson for City Attorney Pete Holmes. Holmes is also leaving his position at the end of this month.

The forensic report could be not only a source of information for the public but for several lawsuits filed against Seattle over the city's handling of protests and unrest in mid-2020.

Texts from at least eight other officials, including the city's fire and police chiefs, also were not retained from periods overlapping with June 2020, when police used tear gas and abandoned their East Precinct, and when the first of two fatal shootings occurred in a zone on Capitol Hill temporarily ceded to protesters.

Durkan has said she believed her texts were being retained while acknowledging that the way the records requests were handled "fell short" of the state's law.