Sawant responds

Today Council member Kshama Sawant published a written response to my article on Monday detailing her close and problematic relationship with Socialist Alternative.

You can read her full statement here.

In a nutshell: she says it’s true, denies that it represents any ethics violations or that she ever hid or misrepresented it, leans in to own it all as a representative of ordinary working people, and includes several paragraphs of her standard-fare talking points.



  1. If I remember correctly, you can join SA but only after passing a test that makes sure you align with their positions? Is this correct? So the SA is not really open to everyone and they are not truly open to diverse opinions and thoughts? Or am I miss reading this? If I am correct, then how does Sawant say that she follows a truly democratic process if it is not really open to every citizen? Again, please correct me if I am wrong.

    1. You are correct. Read their “guide to recruiting” and “branch organizer’s guide” (in the documents I posted) for more discussion of what they are looking for in their pre-acceptance “conversation” (i.e. interview).

  2. So – pay $$ and pass an interview to join the exclusive club – then you get direct access to influence policy via City Hall votes? Sounds like our own sad, PNW version of Mar-a-Lago…

    This also helps explain that sort of bizarre head tax scene – where they were trying to take a vote but CM Sawant was paralyzed as she tried to ask her audience, “what should we do?” I guess she was trying to conduct a real-time vote the paid devotees?

    BTW: I am still unclear – is this type of vote delegation to a paid-to-play committee legal? At least the goofballs at Mar-a-Lago only get to rub elbows – but at least they still don’t the votes. (AFAIK) :-/

    Also, in one of the comments, somebody mentioned the deep docs suggested CM Sawant used some SA issue as leverage with CM O’Brien. I couldn’t connect the dots. Any insights?

    Finally – what ever came of the request for access to ‘side accounts’ (gmail) being used by multiple CMs and their aides? My understanding was that SEA ethics passed – since they report to the Council – but was the issue raised at the state level?

    As always – thanks for the coverage + advocacy for transparency in gov’t. 🙂

    1. I lay out in the original article the ethics violations I believe it entails. For Sawant, it’s particularly acute because she has a financial conflict of interest: her husband works for Socialist Alternative and they both get travel reimbursements. That requires her to make at the very least additional disclosures — generally speaking, every time she conducts city business involving them, such as in her case taking a vote in which she let them decide the vote. And in many instances she must recuse herself if the action is seen as benefiting the outside organization with which she has a financial interest. So minimally she should have made a public declaration every time her vote was decided by SA instead of her. Likewise for allowing SA to fire one of her employees, though that is also misappropriation of city resources, a wholly separate violation of the ethics code.

      I don’t remember a specific mention of O’Brien, and a quick search of the documents didn’t turn up one.

      Both the city auditor and the state auditor punted on looking into the issue of private email accounts. The state auditor’s response was particularly painful: he pushed it over to a PR flack, who sad that we can just sue the officials to get the documents we want. Completely missing the point that we don’t know what, if any, emails exist in the first place, and with private email accounts there is no way for even a court to find out. A Public Document Request is also legally binding, and that clearly isn’t working.

      1. Have you attempted to contact Nancy Krier, the Assistant Attorney General for Open Government, about this issue?

        It feels like there must be some city, county, or state agency that is still responsive to violation of open government statutes. As you have stated, the continued use of private email to avoid public scrutiny appears widespread in seattle government. The AG’s office might be interested.

Comments are closed.