Rantz: Did Seattle City Attorney try to hide Murray settlement?
Early Saturday night, in the middle of a long weekend due to New Year’s Eve the following night, the City Attorney’s office revealed it settled with one of former Mayor Ed Murray’s accusers for $150,000 in taxpayer dollars. Now, some are speculating that the timing of the announcement was meant to hide the news. But is that the case?
I first heard about the settlement a little before 7 p.m. on Saturday, after seeing a tweet from Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner, one of the pair of reporters who has been leading the coverage that would end up prematurely ending Murray’s term in office.
Shortly after the settlement was offered, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes issued a statement. That was the impetus for a tweet by Seattle Met Magazine editor Hayat Norimine to tweet:
Of course, the city issues a statement Saturday evening that Seattle settled a lawsuit with Ed Murray’s accuser for $150,000 pic.twitter.com/qofBrBflFk
— Hayat Norimine (@HayatNorimine) December 31, 2017
The implication seems to be that Holmes purposefully dumped this news on a Saturday night when most of us wouldn’t be paying attention. Others were less subtle. Dori Monson flat out called this “sneaky” of the city.
So, did Holmes purposefully withhold the information so that it would go unnoticed? He’s dragging his feet on prosecuting a progressive activist who a Seattle Police detective claims violated the rules of the Democracy Vouchers. It appears in that case, Holmes is using his office to protect an ideological ally. In the case of Murray’s settlements? In a word: no.
There’s no evidence to suggest Holmes was trying to hide the settlement. In fact, according to the accuser’s attorney, Holmes is “handling this incredibly well.”
In a chat I had with him on Saturday, right after the news broke, attorney Lincoln Beauregard told me he didn’t suspect Holmes engaged in any trickery in the timing.
“The truth is, it was Pete’s office that took steps to send the information out immediately after we finalized details on Saturday,” Beauregard told me. “I don’t personally want to speculate on the timing because it was honestly handled the best way possible. The case would have been a disaster for the City moving forward.”
Beauregard has been, obviously, a harsh critic of the city – he was suing it, after all. He has no reason to lie about the timing here. If Beauregard wanted to be petty, he could have waited to sign until the new year for a better news cycle.
Based on the information currently available, it seems unfair to criticize Holmes for this. He immediately responded with a statement. Had he not reacted immediately, he’d have been accused of dragging his feet. Is it his fault that the settlement was reached when it was reached? I’m not so sure.
And, let’s be clear about this: if the intent was to hide the settlement, boy did Holmes screw up. The media found out immediately reported it immediately and disseminated it as best they could over the long weekend. This week, in talk radio? Dori Monson will cover it extensively. Todd Herman will be all over it, as will Tom and Curley. I discussed it multiple times on my show on Tuesday. This seems like the worst kept secret if that’s the intent. I think we ought to be reasonable and Holmes doesn’t deserve our ire over the timing. And if you’re mad about the settlement, be mad at Murray who engaged in the alleged misconduct and used his office to go after the accuser in a way that got the lawsuit re-filed.