Recall group files new complaint over Kshama Sawant campaign spending

Sep 16, 2021, 5:34 AM
Sawant recall...
Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (Seattle City Council, Flickr Creative Commons)
(Seattle City Council, Flickr Creative Commons)

The group seeking to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant filed a complaint this week alleging that she hadn’t adequately disclosed the use of funds given to her by the city to challenge the effort in court.

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In September 2020, the Seattle City Council voted in favor of paying for Sawant’s legal defense against the recall with taxpayer dollars. While that defense ultimately fell short, the recall’s manager Henry Bridger claims that the councilmember violated campaign finance laws by not reporting and itemizing those funds.

“It’s required by state law and campaign finance law that they report the money that they received — any campaign has to, and that they also have to report what they spent it on and how much they spent,” Bridger told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “We have [reported our spending] because we’ve had to pay for everything with our own money that we’ve gathered.”

The campaign’s complaint was filed with the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission. If Sawant is found to be in violation of the state’s finance laws, Bridger says she could face fines or sanctions, or be forced to refund the money she received for her legal defense.

The recall petition itself lists four accusations, including that Sawant endangered city employees by admitting protesters into City Hall after hours in June 2020, and that she misused council resources to promote a ballot initiative. This latest allegation, though, cannot be added to the petition, given that the language and charges have already been approved by the courts.

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“We are bound by those and we have to stick with those,” Bridger clarified. “This is added stuff that we should know as taxpayers.”

The group submitted its signatures to King County Elections (KCE) last week, and is awaiting verification. Should the requisite number of signatures get verified, KCE would have between 45 to 90 days to hold the vote. Given the current timeline, that would likely take place in December or January.

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Recall group files new complaint over Kshama Sawant campaign spending