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Rantz: Pay-to-play is the only way to influence Kshama Sawant in the Seattle City Council

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (Seattle Channel)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant loves to tout that she’s a voice of her district, but unless you’re willing to pay dues to Socialist Alternative, Sawant isn’t really interested in what you have to say.

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Sawant is facing at least two ethics complaints — one filed by a Seattle voter, and the newest is filed by her council opponent Logan Bowers. Both stem for the influence Socialist Alternative (SA) has over her office. This influence includes allowing SA to dictate who she hires and fires in her council office. To get around the scrutiny, Bowers argues, Sawant relies on a personal Gmail account to conduct city business, making it hard to verify if she turns over the necessary emails in public disclosure requests.

“I think we can all agree that we want government that works for us, we want it to be transparent, and I think we need to root out corruption regardless of ideology,” Bowers told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Over the weekend, Sawant addressed the Bowers complaint in a story on KIRO 7. And in her defense, she concedes that she is, indeed, accountable to SA. That’s where the pay-to-play comes in.

“I think that people in the media and big business and others who are saying that this a bad thing that I’m accountable to Socialist Alternative — their real problem is that I’m not accountable to big business and the wealthy and I’m proud of being accountable to working people,” Sawant said.

Her delusion aside — there’s no media anger since her time in office has delivered us nothing but clicks, downloads, and views — the very fact that she admits to being accountable to SA is problematic.

It’s not a shock that she coordinates with a political organization; Democrats and Republicans also do this. But, like a union, SA members pay monthly dues as part of their membership, which is different when it comes to the Democrats or Republicans. Their application reads:

All members of Socialist Alternative pay monthly membership dues. Maintaining complete independence from corporate influence means we can rely only on the financial commitment of our members and supporters. If you’re ready to start paying dues you can sign up today for an easy and automatic bank account deduction every month. Or, if you’re not ready yet you can talk to an SA organizer first to learn more about what it means to be a member of SA.

In other words, if you’re not a paying member of her party, she won’t listen to you. It’s one thing to coordinate with like-minded activists. It’s another thing to require you pay before you get an ear in the office of your council member.

Sawant should be accountable to her constituents, not a small handful of privileged millennials paying to be a part of a political cult.

“Are you ready to fight corporate developers and big landlords?” asked Sawant to a cheering crowd over the weekend.

She should have added the caveat that you also must be ready to pay SA some dues before she gives you the time of day when she’s not seeking your vote.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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