JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Seattle Progressive activists try skirting rules with attack ads for Herbold, Strauss, Morales

Oct 23, 2019, 5:59 AM | Updated: 8:14 am

After decrying Amazon trying to buy the Seattle City Council elections for a legal campaign donation, progressive activists tried to skirt campaign rules by Facebook to sneak in attack ads to benefit incumbent Seattle councilwoman Lisa Herbold, newcomer Dan Strauss, and socialist Tammy Morales.

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The Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy (CAPE) attempted to run 47 Facebook ads attacking moderate or progressive politicians not unduly influenced by fringe activists or union interests.

Several ads attack Herbold’s opponent, falsely claiming that Phil Tavel was “hand picked” by Amazon to run. He was not. Another set of ads attack Heidi Willis, Strauss’ opponent, despicably claiming she “may be for sale” because she’s not virulently anti-Amazon. Others promote Morales as a “leader we need” in Seattle (we already have someone like her in Kshama Sawant, and it’s been a disaster).

Under newly adopted Washington State Public Disclosure Commission rules, Facebook announced they’d no longer accept ads that relate to Washington political campaigns. Facebook has repeatedly made their policy clear, but that didn’t stop CAPE from trying to sneak in ads.

Indeed, even after their ads were removed from Facebook, it appears they kept creating them, hoping they’d sneak by so they could help buy the election.

Some ads were caught and removed before reaching too many voters, but others, earned between 15,000 and 20,000 impressions, with CAPE attempting to spend just under $900 to cheat unethically impact the election. In all, Facebook reports they were only able to spend $686 in order to impact the election.

Though not illegal, as it’s up to Facebook to enforce their own rules, it’s deeply unethical. But, that’s par for the course with CAPE, run by political consultant Heather Weiner, who’s been behind some remarkably hypocritical attacks to favor Herbold. Ironically, Weiner recently touted a story about a campaign complaint filed against a candidate she opposes.

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CAPE is flush with funds from one percenter and venture capitalist Nick Hanauner and union interests, including SEIU 775, UFCW 21 PAC, and Teamsters Local Union #117.

One of these ads was flagged by community group Safe Seattle, which is where I first saw this issue discussed.

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Rantz: Seattle Progressive activists try skirting rules with attack ads for Herbold, Strauss, Morales