Wasson quits Des Moines council, admits wrongdoing

Discussion:

DES MOINES — Embattled City Councilman Don Wasson resigned last night, acknowledging wrongdoing in a Public Disclosure Commission case involving charges that he and a local businessman concealed $49,000 in campaign contributions.

Wasson, the subject of a recall campaign, had previously stepped down as mayor but said he intended to remain a member of the City Council until his term expired later this year.

Reached at his home last night, Wasson, 76, declined to comment.

In a prepared statement, he cited the PDC case and the recall effort.

“In large part, these proceedings are based upon false statements by those who have political agendas and goals which require my removal from the council and I have concluded that the personal and financial cost of defending against these false accusations is simply too great to warrant my continued participation on the Council,” Wasson wrote.

But he also acknowledged, “While it was never my intent to violate any rule or law regulating our city’s election process, I must acknowledge that I did so mistakenly. To the many citizens of Des Moines who placed their trust and confidence in me I sincerely apologize.”

The PDC staff alleged that Wasson and local businessman Hank Hopkins concealed contributions that helped Wasson get three other council members elected to the seven-member council. [Note: Wasson’s role was stated incorrectly in the original version of this story but has since been corrected.]

Hopkins’ firm, Environmental Materials Transport, has proposed to construct a conveyor belt that would transfer fill material from Des Moines to the Sea-Tac International Airport for construction of a controversial third runway.

In December, Wasson and three other council members — Maggie Steenrod, Gary Petersen and Richard Benjamin — voted to halt city contributions to the Airport Communities Coalition, which is fighting the runway.