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Seattle council unlikely to oblige mayor’s request to investigate Sawant

Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a letter to Council President Lorena Gonzalez on Tuesday, calling on her to open an investigation into several allegations levied against Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Gonzalez responded Wednesday, indicating that she does not intend to oblige that request.

Opinion: Seattle Mayor Durkan distracts from crisis with Sawant feud

“The public airing of issues amongst and between independently elected officials will not advance solutions on the deepening needs of our constituents,” she said in a written statement. “I remain focused on finding solutions and would welcome a letter from Mayor Durkan detailing her vision on how we can work together on enacting concrete solutions that meaningfully address these crises.”

Gonzalez pointed to a need to focus on other issues which are currently front of mind for many city leaders. That includes the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, protests over police violence, and more.

“These critical and concurrent challenges are unprecedented and require us to set aside our personal and political grievances and work together,” she said.

Durkan’s original letter leveled several accusations against Sawant, including:

  • Allegations that Sawant violated City hiring rules by giving decision-making authority to Socialist Alternative, a complaint dating back to late-2018/early-2019
  • Charges filed in early February by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission accusing Sawant of using her position and resources as a city councilmember to promote her “Tax Amazon” campaign
  • Allowing a crowd of protesters inside of City Hall in early June
  • Allegations she “encouraged attendants” at a June 28 rally to “illegally ‘occupy’ City Property, the East Precinct, at a time the City has been trying to de-escalate the situation and ask individuals to depart because of violence in the area”
  • Allegations she led a march to Mayor Durkan’s home over the weekend; Durkan’s address is redacted in official documents over threats made against her during her time as a U.S. Attorney

The letter also alleges that Sawant’s followers vandalized Durkan’s home “by spray-painting obscenities,” while asking city council to “fully investigate” Sawant to “determine if action should be taken.”

Gonzalez said that she’s confident the city’s Ethics and Election Commission will handle any of the complaints cited by Mayor Durkan “that may fall into their jurisdiction.”

Kshama Sawant calls for investigation into SPD conduct

Sawant and Durkan have clashed over several issues during their time in city government, most recently with Sawant calling on Durkan to resign in the wake of police violence at protests downtown and on Capitol Hill.

Sawant responded to Durkan’s letter on Wednesday, labeling it “an attack on working people’s movements, and everything we are fighting for.”

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