Latest ethics complaints filed against Sawant officially dismissed

Mar 26, 2019, 5:37 PM

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Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (Seattle Channel)

(Seattle Channel)

A pair of ethics complaints filed against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant were dismissed Tuesday.

RELATED: Bowers looking to ‘root out corruption’ with Sawant complaint
RELATED: Sawant’s campaign still relies on big, out-of-town donors

The complaints — filed by District 3 council candidate Logan Bowers — levied a litany of charges against Sawant. Those charges were:

  • That Sawant misused her position as a councilmember for the private benefit of her party, Socialist Alternative
  • That she accepted money from Socialist Alternative for travel, and allowed that to influence her decisions on the council
  • That she violated the Public Records Act by using third-party communications services to conduct City of Seattle business, as a means to avoid providing correspondence in public records requests
  • That she disclosed confidential information to Socialist Alternative

The explanation for the dismissal is laid out in a letter from Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission Executive Director Wayne Barnett, acquired by KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

“Fundamentally, I believe that elected officials are free to structure their decision-making processes as they wish, subject to the will of the voters every four years,” said Barnett.

Barnett went point by point on each charge, citing a lengthy interview with Sawant, where she provided explanations and evidence in her defense.

For the charge regarding her alleged misuse of her position, Sawant told the city that Socialist Alternative “does not take votes on matters coming before the City Council,” and that “she does not recall a single instance where she had taken an official action as a City Councilmember with which she disagreed because (Socialist Alternative) directed her to do so.”

The money she accepted for travel purportedly was a trend dating back to 2010, with Barnett qualifying the payments as “customary expenses for Socialist Alternative to cover for its members.”

Barnett noted that for the Public Records Act violation, that charge resides outside of the SEEC’s jurisdiction, and that it should be addressed through the courts.

Lastly, the allegation claiming Sawant had shared confidential information to Socialist Alternative was labeled as “conjecture, not evidence.”

Sawant is currently up for election in District 3, and will be opposed by small business owner Logan Bowers, neighborhood activist Pat Murakami, Seattle Public Defender Ami Nguyen, and local activist Asukaa Jaxx.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Latest ethics complaints filed against Sawant officially dismissed