FBI to Investigate Spokane Mayor

The state of Washington will defer to the FBI in an initial investigation of Mayor James West (search), who has been accused of using his office to seek sexual favors from other men, the attorney general said Thursday.

Attorney General Rob McKenna (search) said the state would prefer to wait for the outcome of a preliminary FBI investigation into whether any crimes had occurred.

After that, the State Patrol will decide if a full investigation into any violations of state law is warranted, while the FBI (search) will decide whether to pursue any violations of federal law, McKenna said.

McKenna said he discussed his options with State Patrol Chief John Batiste and Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker. Batiste and the FBI decided not to duplicate their efforts, McKenna said.

Spokane City Attorney Mike Connelly said the city will proceed with an investigation of whether the mayor improperly used city computers.

West, a conservative Republican and longtime gay-rights opponent who became mayor in January 2004, has taken a leave of absence.

In a series that began last week, The Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane published accusations by two convicted felons who said West molested them more than two decades ago, when he was a Boy Scout leader and sheriff's deputy.

West, 54, has vehemently denied he molested anyone, or had sex with anyone younger than 18. But he has acknowledged he visited Gay.com and had relations with adult men. The newspaper has also reported he offered city jobs to young men in whom he was interested.