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Public records reveal Herbold tipped off blogger, began RV storm

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. (Seattle City Council)

According to a public records request, Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold may have been the one to set off the entire firestorm about an RV parked in front of her West Seattle home last October.

Community activist and former council candidate Ari Hoffman found records of text messages that prove Herbold texted the blogger who first reported that an RV had been towed in front of her house. Previous reports stated that a neighbor had tipped him off.

“She was texting with the blogger who started the whole thing — she’s the one who sent him the pictures and said, ‘This is in front of my house,'” Hoffman told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

Due to statements made earlier that week by Hoffman, Herbold assumed the placement of the RV was part of a political stunt meant to protest the number of derelict RVs in Seattle. Emails obtained in the records request show that Herbold sent emails to people who asked about the RV, stating that it was a political stunt.

RV update: ‘Total coincidence’ that couple picked council member’s street

However, this happened to fall on Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday during which observers like Hoffman spend 25 hours in prayer and completely abstain from phone and internet use.

“I was pretty upset that I was being blamed for it,” Hoffman said.

As it turned out, a young couple in need had bought the trailer with the intention of using it as a temporary home.

Herbold faces ethics violation fine over RV texts

The news tip-offs were not the only RV-related texts Herbold sent that day. She will now have to pay a $500 ethics violation fine for a series of texts she sent to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

As KTTH’s Jason Rantz reported, when it was still believed that the RV was part of a grand political stunt, Herbold texted Best and asked if the person who had the RV towed to her house could be charged with theft; Herbold assumed the RV had been stolen by the person who had towed it.

“It’s a little ridiculous that a city council person thinks they get special treatment when they’re subjecting the rest of us to this,” Hoffman said.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission also considers this a violation of political position. Herbold will appear before the commission on Wednesday to answer for this violation.

Best recommended by text message that Herbold use the city’s Find It, Fix It app, the app other Seattle residents use to report abandoned RVs. Herbold did so, and, as Rantz reported, the RV was towed 24 hours after it arrived — except by that point, she had become aware that it belonged to a young family in need, and had offered her driveway to them so they could have a temporary shelter.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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