Sawant clears $75K in donations, raises limit on D3 Democracy Vouchers
Apr 24, 2019, 11:43 AM
As campaign donations in Seattle’s District 3 council race continue to flow in, incumbent Kshama Sawant’s robust fundraising triggered an interesting wrinkle in the rules surrounding the newly enacted Democracy Voucher system.
Essentially, a candidate opting to use Democracy Vouchers is limited to $75,000 in campaign contributions during the primaries. If a candidate not using vouchers gets over $75,000 in donations, though, a voucher candidate can petition the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission to remove their own contribution cap.
That’s exactly what happened in District 3, with Councilmember Sawant recently clearing $75,000 in contributions. Following close behind Sawant is pot shop owner Logan Bowers. He has raised more than $64,000, which includes nearly $37,000 in Democracy Vouchers.
Once the latest round of vouchers is officially processed, Bowers predicts he’ll hit that $75,000 ceiling, and after successfully petitioning the SEEC, he’s now free to go over that limit.
“By raising $76k herself through last month alone, Kshama has pushed the price tag on a fair election even higher,” Bowers said in a Wednesday news release.
As of April 14 — when the most recent numbers were processed by the SEEC — District 3’s eight candidates have raised the most combined money out of any other council election in Seattle, at $183,385.
Following behind that number is District 7’s $152,814 across nine candidates (running to replace exiting Sally Bagshaw), and District 6’s $144,047 combined among 12 candidates (running to replace exiting Mike O’Brien).
Sawant has faced criticism for the volume of donations coming from both out of her district, and outside of Seattle entirely. As of publishing, the incumbent council member has raised 45 percent of her money from outside city limits, and just over 21 percent from inside District 3.
Digging into her individual donations, many contributors are sending money from outside of Washington, residing in Minnesota, New York, Illinois, and California among other states.
“It’s unfortunate, as every candidate except Kshama, myself included, were perfectly happy to keep big money out, but she raised over 45 percent of her money from big, out-of-state donors and blew through the limit,” Bowers’ statement continued.
Comparatively, 23 percent of total city council donations have come from outside of Seattle. Bowers’ own breakdown of contribution has him getting 40 percent from inside District 3, and just over 15 percent from out-of-towners.
We have reached out to Councilmember Sawant for a comment on recent fundraising efforts but have yet to hear back.