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Seattle City Council votes to cover Kshama Sawant’s legal defense

Socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant at a recent digital Council meeting. (Screenshot)

In a 7-1 vote on Tuesday, the Seattle City Council voted to pay for Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s legal defense against a recall effort.

Councilmember Debora Juarez was the lone no vote.

A group filed a petition on Aug. 18 to recall Councilmember Sawant.

The petition, submitted by Seattle resident Ernie Lou on behalf of the “Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee,” lays out a series of allegations, including:

    • That Sawant misused council resources to promote a ballot initiative in early February
    • That she violated City hiring rules by giving decision-making authority to Socialist Alternative
    • That she revealed the address of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home to protesters who later marched to her home
    • That she endangered City employees by admitting hundreds of protesters into City Hall after hours
    • That she “created a criminal environment” in the East Precinct area of Capitol Hill that ultimately led to the creation of the CHOP

Read more about the petition.

Many of the accusations levied in the petition have come up frequently throughout Sawant’s tenure. In 2019, council candidate Logan Bowers filed a complaint with the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission (SEEC) over the accusation Sawant handed over hiring (as well as voting) decisions to Socialist Alternative. The SEEC dismissed that complaint in March of 2019.

Sawant has also denied organizing a protest that took place outside of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home, although she did speak at the demonstration. Durkan’s address is redacted in official documents over threats made against her during her time as a U.S. Attorney.

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

The mayor had previously called on council members to investigate several of the allegations laid out in Bowers’ petition, a request the council rejected in early July.

Lou would have until March to collect just over 10,700 certified paper signatures from registered voters, a number that would constitute 25% of total votes cast in the last District 3 election.

That would then trigger a simple “yes” or “no” recall vote, which would have to take place on a previously scheduled election date. If Lou gathers enough signatures in time, the earliest possible date for a recall vote would be a special election on Feb. 9, 2021.

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