This afternoon, the City Council unanimously passed two of the three bills in the suite of “Clean Campaigns” ordinances aimed to reduce the influence of big money — and particularly corporate money — in local politics.
This morning, the newly-seated City Council passed out of committee two bills that are part of Council President Lorena Gonzalez’s “Clean Campaigns” legislation package, leaving one more to receive additional tooling over the next three months.
This morning, four City Council members took part in the Council’s first public discussion of Council member Gonzalez’s proposed “Clean Campaigns” bill to limit certain types of big money in elections.
This afternoon, Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge Ed McKenna replied to yesterday’s letter from City Attorney Pete Holmes and King county Director of Public Defense Anita Khandelwal.
In a rare moment of unity today, Anita Khandelwal, the Director of the King County Department of Public Defense, and Pete Holmes, the Seattle City Attorney, sent a joint letter to Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge Ed McKenna accusing him of violating the canons of judicial ethics, judicial bias, and undermining public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.
UPDATE #2: A spokesperson for the City Attorney confirms that their letter should have said Safe Seattle instead of Speak Out Seattle. “It was a mistake and we regret the error.” I have corrected the name in the story below.
Every April 15th, the eleven elected officials of the city (the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the nine City Council members) are required to file a financial disclosure form, detailing their households’ financial holdings and debts as well as their sources of income. Those reports are public records but the city doesn’t publish them; I request them every year and post them so we can all learn and understand whether any of them have financial interests that might affect the way their do their job.
Following my January article documenting the extent to which the political organization Socialist Alternative directs the actions of Council member Kshama Sawant in her official capacity as a City Council member, two (substantially similar) ethics complaints were filed with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission: one by an anonymous District 3 voter, and one by District 3 Council candidate Logan Bowers. This afternoon, SEEC Executive Director Wayne Barnett sent a letter to those parties (with copies to journalists, including myself) announcing that he is dismissing those complaints and explaining his reasoning.
This afternoon the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) met. On their agenda: an update on the imminent launch of this year’s Democracy Vouchers program; what counts as a candidate debate; and the rules for lobbyists and campaign consultants.
I urge you to read the full version of this story, because it provides important context to understand why Sawant and Socialist Alternative are doing these things — and to make sense of Socialist Alternative’s jargon-heavy documents. But if you really can’t spare the time to do so, here’s the tl;dr version.
Internal documents from Socialist Alternative, many of which were written over the past two years during a period when its leadership was factionalized and infighting, show the extent to which Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant has turned over decision-making for her City Council duties to the leadership of Socialist Alternative. That includes deciding how Sawant will vote on matters before the Council, as well as staffing decisions for her Council office — and firing people who work for Sawant on the city payroll.