For several weeks, in three editorials, the Seattle Times Editorial Board has sunk its teeth into scandalized Democrat state auditor Troy Kelley, who this week was indicted on 10 federal criminal charges including filing false tax returns, obstruction of justice and possession of stolen property.

Their outrage commenced in response to Kelley’s unwillingness to answer questions about what federal agents were looking for when they raided his Tacoma home (March 24, 2015, “State Auditor Troy Kelley must come clean”), grew louder when his “self-imposed witness protection program” continued (April 3, 2015, “State Auditor Troy Kelley must resign”), and reached a roaring climax yesterday when the news of his formal indictment prompted nearly every Washingtonian not blood-related to Kelley to call for his immediate resignation (April 16, 2015, “Time for Troy Kelley to show himself the door”).

{Cue slow golf clap.}

Please forgive those who may not see riding atop a juggernaut of public opinion as a shining example of journalistic integrity.

Although those three full-throated editorials blistering Kelley are right on the mark they do not erase the Times’ original sin in this story—their decision to endorse Kelley in 2012 for the office he now holds onto with the stubborn strength of a desperate man.

The Seattle Times editorial board owes its readers an apology for its 2012 endorsement of the then-candidate and now indicted Kelley.

Not because we don’t all get it wrong from time to time—we all do—but because the Times got it spectacularly wrong when they had all of the reasons handed to them to get it right.

Allegations that Kelley had been involved in the shady business dealings that now form the foundation of 10 federal criminal charges were first brought forward by his opponent in the 2012 campaign, business consultant James Watkins.

(Side note: The Northwest Daily Marker reviewed the evidence as part of our decision whether to run our initial story on the allegations that now form the case against him in federal court. We felt at the time, as we do now, the allegations were valid and well-documented enough to be newsworthy and warrant further public scrutiny.)

In awarding their endorsement to Kelley, the Times chided Watkins for his having brought the allegations by posting them on a website, characterized the act as “mudslinging,” and warned that “[v]oters should be cautious about the files posted on []. Legal documents are rife with hyperbole.”

So, because the Times didn’t like the style of Watkin’s message it appears they felt comfortable ignoring it and then shooting the messenger for good measure.

(It should also be noted that although the Times claimed in its March 24 piece that the original endorsement “called on Kelley to release a 2011 legal settlement involving one of his former businesses.” We have read the version of the endorsement still published on the Seattle Times website and were unable to find a statement that comes anywhere close to making a clear demand of that sort. If they had, one would have expected them to call him to task at some point during the 15 months following the demand, but not a word was printed on the subject after the endorsement until the federal case became known.)

In reality, it doesn’t matter who the messenger is or what the method of their delivery may be if the message itself has some hard evidence to suggest it might be true. Putting it aside because you don’t like the style of delivery is not an acceptable practice for organizations that believe the public deserves the truth about serious allegations.

We don’t deserve the truth for moral reasons—the special protections given to the press under the First Amendment imply a covenant of sorts that must function in a legitimate democracy.

The Seattle Times Editorial Board should step forward and give readers the apology they deserve.