News and Commentary

Socialist Seattle City Council Member Appeals Recall Effort. It’s Now Going To The Washington Supreme Court.
Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant speaks at a rally held outside the courthouse where U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle is hearing Daniel Ramirez Medina v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security on February 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.
Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Self-described “socialist” Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant’s recall fight is heading to the Washington Supreme Court.

In August, a petition circulated to recall Sawant outlining six allegations against the city councilwoman. In September, King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers dismissed two of the six charges against Sawant, relating to her involvement in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), a short-lived “reclamation” of Seattle’s East Precinct that resulted in numerous crimes, including multiple shootings.

Rogers allowed the other four charges to stand, which were, according to MyNorthwest:

  • 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

While allowing these four remaining charges to move forward, Rogers said, “the petitioner has shown actual knowledge of facts indicating that the councilmember intended to commit an unlawful act.”

Also in September, Seattle’s City Council voted to pay Sawant’s legal bills relating to the recall petition.

“The ordinance would cover the costs of the outside lawyers Sawant has already hired to fight the recall effort, the city attorney’s office said, a sum City Council staff estimated at $75,000,” The Seattle Times reported at the time.

After the vote, Council President Lorena Gonzalez defended the council’s decision by saying, “For those people who think it is extraordinary to use taxpayer dollars to pay for legal defense, this is not a novel idea, as we have a criminal justice system built on the concept of providing free legal defense to those who request it.”

Other councilmembers agreed. Councilmember Alex Pedersen said, “Councilmember Sawant was reelected less than a year ago. Adequate legal counsel should be available to a duly elected official defending a recall petition whether or not they can afford such representation.” Councilmember Andrew Lewis added, “I want to be clear that I’m voting yes and in doing so not commenting on the merits of the recall’s allegations and voting for the values of our democracy here in Seattle. It’s a slippery slope if we start picking and choosing who does or doesn’t receive this legal representation.”

Sawant appealed Judge Rogers’ decision, and the fight will now go to the Washington Supreme Court, Hot Air reported.

One of the charges against Sawant relates to her revealing the address of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home. Durkan routinely defended Seattle’s “autonomous zone” as re-enacting the “summer of love,” ignoring the rampant crime and squalor in the precinct. Then the protesters came to her home, and she changed her tune.

“Mayor Durkan and her family are in the state program to keep their address confidential because of the death threats mostly related to her work as Seattle’s U.S. Attorney under President Obama. Instead of working to make true change, Councilmember Sawant continues to choose political stunts. Tonight she did so without regard for the safety of the Mayor and her family. The Mayor was not even home — she was working at City Hall. Seattle can and should peacefully demonstrate but should not put families and children at risk,” the mayor’s office said after protesters showed up at Durkan’s home.

Durkan then called for an investigation into Sawant, suggesting she be expelled from the city council for her role in the protests in front of Durkan’s home. Durkan herself faced a recall effort for defending the autonomous zone.

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