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City of Seattle wants to dump contract with developer after blackmail allegations

District 8 candidate Jon Grant alleges that Brett Allen, senior vice president of Triad Capital Partners, the developer of $400 million project across from city hall approached him about settling a lawsuit filed by Grant's former employer. (MyNorthwest file)
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The Seattle City Council candidate who says he was asked to “solve a lawsuit” in order to avoid political backlash is unclear whether or not his opponent is involved.

District 8 candidate Jon Grant alleges that Brett Allen, senior vice president of Triad Capital Partners, the developer of a $400 million project across from city hall, approached him about settling a lawsuit filed by Grant’s former employer. For doing that, Grant could be reassured that there wouldn’t be a $200,000 campaign started against him by an independent-expenditure committee.

Grant is running against incumbent Tim Burgess. He says “some of the folks” at Triad are some of Burgess’ biggest campaign contributors.

Since bringing the allegations to light, the City of Seattle made the decision not to renew its contract with Triad, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Wednesday. In the meantime, the city will explore its options to terminate the contract early.

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Settling the lawsuit would be one thing, but to avoid an attack is something completely different, Grant told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

“I think it’s one thing to sit down and talk about an issue,” Grant said. “It’s another to essentially blackmail me with a $200,000 threat and undercut interests of low-income tenants of the city. I made it clear that I would be unwilling to do that.”

The lawsuit was brought about by the Tenants Union of Washington State, after the City of Seattle sold a block of land to Triad to build “million-dollar condos,” Grant explained. He was the executive director at the time. The city later illegally extended the developer’s permit, he said. The union was opposed to the project because it wouldn’t include any affordable housing.

Once Grant made it clear he would not be cooperating to avoid an attack on his campaign, he says that’s when Allen reached out to former Mayor Mike McGinn; hoping he could convince Grant to come to an agreement. McGinn has endorsed Grant. The Seattle Times attained text messages that are allegedly between Allen and McGinn.

Hey Mike, it’s Brett. Any luck in getting Grant to sit down? I realize 100% of his focus is on election &#8212 but nothing else he does today could translate into as many votes. Definitely worth an hour of his time.

“I don’t know how much more explicit it could be,” Grant told Dave. “Pretty much outlined quid pro quo.”

The message continued, the Times reported:

Just in case I wasn’t clear yesterday: any deal would be contingent on the 200k IE going away. Please tell him that we’re sincere in our desire to get this resolved before any major damage done. We need him to show leadership. As an alternative, Grant could simply instruct his attorney … to accept our offer on the table [or make a counter offer]. Deadline is Monday @ noon — after which certain bad things can’t be undone. Thanks again for your efforts to try to help us both! And Go Hawks!

Allen told The Seattle Times that he was unaware of any committee until Grant mentioned it when they ran into each other over the weekend.

Ross is familiar with similar situations, although maybe not to this extreme. When he ran for Congress in 2004, he sat down with a business group for lunch to “prove he was sane.” It worked and they didn’t campaign against him; although he did lose.

Though the legalities of it all is unclear, Grant says it is unethical at the very least.

Did anyone expect Grant to go public with this?, Ross asked. If a $200,000 campaign were to run now, it’s possible it could backfire.

“When you have a lot of money, you use it,” Grant explained. “They will do whatever they can to make sure I don’t win…

“I think Tim Burgess should make it clear he is not part of this.”

By the way, if Grant had it his way, the block of land slated for million-dollar condos would be affordable housing.

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