Rantz: Seattle man says he was fired over Kshama Sawant recall effort

The Seattle man behind an effort to recall Socialist Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant says he was fired from his “dream job” over his political activism. In Seattle, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of political ideology.

Ernie Lou, a liberal Capitol Hill resident, has grown tired of Sawant’s divisive, selfish behavior. He submitted a petition for recall, alleging a host of allegations around Sawant’s behavior in the aftermath of her efforts to defund the Seattle Police Department.

As a result, he says he was fired from his job.

“As you know, I was terminated from my position with a small, local nonprofit, Three Dollar Bill Cinema, this past Thursday, August 20, due to the fact that Sawant and her supporters inundated and bullied this small nonprofit into terminating my contract,” Lou tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “This was my ‘dream job’ so I am crushed.”

Fired for recalling Kshama Sawant?

Lou says he was summarily terminated as Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s fundraiser for his activism. It came after Sawant supporters complained to the nonprofit of his actions.

Lou digitally met with Interim Executive Director Kathleen Mullen and board member Telved Delvet via Google Meet. Reached via email, Lou explained to me that the three briefly discussed “areas of improvement” to work on. But then he said Mullen and Delvet claimed to be blindsided by the complaints from the community and determined they had to terminate their relationship with him.

On Friday, KUOW initially confirmed that Lou was fired for his activism, citing an anonymous source.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema denies

In an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Mullen denied that Lou was fired for his activism, calling the claim “not accurate.”

On its website, the Three Dollar Bill Cinema says Lou’s job was short-term and was made more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic. It says, “Lou’s departure is not connected to the recall Kshama Sawant initiative.”

“Three Dollar Bill Cinema would like to make it absolutely clear that we support First Amendment rights, and a private citizen’s right to freely voice and act upon their own political beliefs,” the statement reads. KUOW would later update their story, deleting the language that they confirmed the story.

Lou tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that Mullen’s statement simply isn’t true.

Lou did not record his meeting with Mullen and Delvet, but Lou says his friend was in the room during the call and heard the entire conversation.

Legal ramifications

If Lou was fired for his political activism, whether it was a small part of the decision or large, there are likely legal ramifications. Seattle is one of the few cities in the country that protects employees from discrimination on the basis of their political ideology and activism. And the law is clear.

This isn’t to say Lou wants or plans to sue. He is a believer in the nonprofit and deeply supports the annual Queer Film Festival. However, the Three Dollar Bill Cinema receives city support from the Office of Arts and Culture. Can they sponsor organizations engaged in illegal discrimination? They did not respond to a request for comment.

The nonprofit is also sponsored by Seattle Children’s Hospital and BECU. They may not want the association with a nonprofit that fires fundraisers for their mainstream political opinions.

If they let Lou go right after receiving complaints from Sawant supporters, it’s a disgraceful look for the Three Dollar Bill Cinema. And for a nonprofit to claim they support the First Amendment after a story like this? It rings hollow.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook