Rantz: Damning report claims Sawant’s votes, decisions made by fringe group

Jan 8, 2019, 6:02 AM
council, Kshama Sawant...
Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said her residence has been targeted multiple times in October, with an unknown suspect throwing plastic bags filled with human excrement into her yard. (File photo)
(File photo)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has ceded her power to Socialist Alternative, a small political activist group, keeping this fact hidden from her constituency, according to a damning exclusive report from SCC Insight. In other words, she’s a puppet of the fringe activist group.

Some of the report’s key takeaways, written by Kevin Schofield:

  1. Loyalty: Sawant vowed her accountability to Socialist Alternative (SA), not her constituency. According to the report, “Sawant has insisted that she is accountable to the organization’s Seattle Executive Committee.”
  2. Votes: SA dictates how Sawant will vote on issues. The report claims Sawant “has handed over significant decision-making to the organization — including how she votes on business that comes before the City Council, and the hiring and firing of government-payroll staff in her office.”
  3. Staffing: SA controls staffing decisions in Sawant’s office, including “decision-making authority over ‘the running and staffing’ of Sawant’s office” according to the report. The report alleges this is in direct violation of the city’s Ethic Code.
  4. Secrecy: Sawant, and SA, communicate primarily via Gmail, rather than the city’s email system. The report claims this is to orchestrate “the means to avoid public scrutiny.” I have confirmed their extensive use of Gmail, via a recent public disclosure request.

The report is very lengthy and worth your time. Read it here.

What’s all this mean?

Though it’s not a surprise that SA has such influence over Sawant, if this report is true, Sawant has ceded all her power to a small group of local activists, which explains why her positions are sometimes so at odds with her district. This is beyond troubling and — while it’s not surprising that she doesn’t get some pretty basic tenets of representative democracy — will leave a sour taste in voter’s mouth.

What struck me as most bizarre is the cult-like way SA and Sawant operates. In internal arguments, Sawant calls out her “comrades,” language that is downright bizarre. The purported retribution in firing one staffer — a decision, the report claims, was made by SA — is frightening and seems legally questionable.

Will this hurt Sawant? The Seattle Times recently indicated that she’s now likely running for re-election. This report, if it gains traction from other outlets, should put Sawant on the defense. She didn’t respond to request for comment from SCC Insight, nor did her office respond to my request, made via the council’s communication director early Monday evening. Given how bad this makes her look, it wouldn’t surprise me that she ignores requests for comments and hopes this goes away. Anyone running against her for city council should make sure that’s hard to do.

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Rantz: Damning report claims Sawant’s votes, decisions made by fringe group