In June 2009, Elisa Dalluge filed a criminal complaint with Ephrata police against Cathleen Neils, a former administrative assistant, saying that Neils filed a false criminal report by reporting a violation of a no contact order. Lee received the police report and assigned it to Albert Lin, who was running against Lee for Grant County prosecutor. Lee knew that the office had been involved in the events that led the woman to file a criminal complaint, and Lee himself had been involved in obtaining the no contact order against the woman; Neils had publically opposed Lee’s appointment to become prosecutor; Lee personally made a criminal report against Neils in an unrelated matter; Neils sued Grant County for wrongful termination; and three days before assigning the case to Lin, Lee filed counterclaims to Neils’ wrongful termination lawsuit. Lin wrote a memo to Lee saying the case was a clear conflict of interest, but Lee did not accept that conclusion and sent the case back to Lin, who wrote a second memo, and later a third memo saying his attorney advised him it was a clear conflict of interest. After a fourth memo from Lin stating the conflicts, Lee questioned Lin about his relationship with Neils, and Lee said she was a friend and a campaign volunteer.
In September 2009, the Prosecutor’s Office received another criminal complaint from Dalluge seeking felony charges against an unnamed person. The complaint included a letter to the FBI that referenced the Neils case. Lee assigned the case to Lin, who said he had a conflict of interest because of references to the Neils matter, and declined to review it. Lee did not accept Lin’s conclusion, and asked for a memo explaining in detail the conflict. Lee later called Lin into his office to discuss the matter, and informed him if he continue to refuse to review the case, it would be considered insubordination. Lee refused to review the case.