Murray drops reelection bid amid sex abuse scandal

Murray at 2017’s AIDS Walk. Sources say the mayor won’t seek reelection (Image: CHS)

A sex abuse scandal will bring down Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s administration and seems likely to put an end to his more than 20-year political career.

Multiple sources are reporting that a morning meeting at City Hall informed insiders that Murray will finish his term as Seattle mayor but will not continue his run for reelection as he battles a lawsuit over allegations he sexually abused a teen in the 1980s. Murray called for a press conference Tuesday morning at Alki Beach, “the site of the landing of the first white settlers in Seattle on a cold, stormy day in November of 1851.”

UPDATE 10:52 AM: An emotional Murray announced his decision in West Seattle saying it was time to look to the city’s future. “The scandal surrounding them is hurting me and this city,” Murray said in the address.

The decades-old scandal involving Murray in his 30s as a young, Capitol Hill apartment resident, began unfolding this spring in a lawsuit brought against Murray by a victim who alleged the future mayor plied him with drugs and paid for sex with the teen he met on a neighborhood bus. Murray, now 61, denied the allegations and accused the victim and lawyer Lincoln C. Beauregard of being part of a political conspiracy attacking the city’s first openly gay mayor. Despite his deep roots in the state’s Democratic establishment, support for Murray in the face of the allegations was mostly quiet as the mayor’s reelection campaign raised concerns over its attacks on the alleged victim’s character. Meanwhile, calls for the powerful mayor to step down were few and far between.

After 18 years serving in the legislature in Olympia, Murray cruised to easy victory in November 2013, becoming Seattle’s mayor over incumbent Mike McGinn thanks in part to strong support on his home turf in the Capitol Hill neighborhood where the champion of LGBTQ civil rights has made his home since the ’80s. In past conversations, Murray has told CHS about his time as a tenant on Capitol Hill where he said he rented for 15 years before buying his North Capitol Hill home where he lives today with spouse Michael Shiosaki.

McGinn has joined a scramble of candidates who have entered the now incumbent-less race to replace Murray. While some like social equity and civil rights activist Nikkita Oliver stepped forward before the abuse scandal unfolded, other more establishment players like State Senator Bob Hasegawa are expected to jump in with Murray stepping aside.

Lawsuit alleges Murray sexually abused teen he met on Capitol Hill in 1980s

IMG_9225Seattle Mayor Ed Murray faces a sex abuse scandal as he heads into a reelection battle to retain his office at City Hall.

The Seattle Times reported Thursday that the 61-year-old faces a lawsuit over allegations that he sexually abused a drug-addicted teen he met on Capitol Hill in the 1980s before Murray launched his political career:

A 46-year-old Kent man sued Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday, claiming Murray “raped and molested him” over several years, beginning in 1986 when the man was a 15-year-old high-school dropout. The lawsuit in King County Superior Court, filed under the man’s initials, “D.H.,” alleges Murray sexually abused the crack-cocaine addicted teen on numerous occasions for payments of $10 to $20. “I have been dealing with this for over 30 years,” the man, now sober for a year, said in an interview with The Seattle Times. He said he was coming forward as part of a “healing process” after years of “the shame, the embarrassment, the guilt, the humiliation that I put myself through and that he put me through.”

Documents in the lawsuit were not yet available via the King County Superior Court’s online record system as of Thursday afternoon. UPDATE 4/7/2017: The complaint and associated filings from Connelly Law attorneys Lincoln C. Beauregard and Julie A. Kays and L.A. Law attorney Lawand Anderson are now available. We have posted the eight-page complaint below. The court has set a trial date for April 2018 though it seems clear things are playing out much more quickly around the suit. The plaintiff’s legal team is calling on the mayor to be available for questions within 90 days. “An early step in this lawsuit will be deposing Mr. Murray, which should occur within the first ninety (90) days of filing,” they write. “D.H. believes that it will be hard, if not nearly impossible for Mr. Murray to deny the abuse.” The full complaint is below:

According to the lawsuit, the victim told Murray he was 15 when the abuse began, underage by consent law in Washington now and at the time of the alleged abuse. The alleged victim said he is coming forward now because of the recent death of his father and because he is now undergoing counseling and participating in addiction-recovery programs, the Seattle Times reports. The statute of limitations to bring charges and investigate the allegations in a criminal case have expired.

The Times also documents two others who came forward previously with allegations of sexual abuse by Murray. A spokesperson for Murray said the mayor denies the accusations and “will vigorously fight the allegations in court” —

These false accusations are intended to damage a prominent elected official who has been a defender of vulnerable populations for decades. It is not a coincidence that this shakedown effort comes within weeks of the campaign filing deadline. These unsubstantiated assertions, dating back three decades, are categorically false. Mayor Murray has never engaged in an inappropriate relationship with any minor. The two older accusations were promoted by extreme right-wing antigay activists in the midst of the marriage equality campaign, and were thoroughly investigated and dismissed by both law enforcement authorities and the media. Mayor Murray will vigorously fight these allegations in court.

In addition to his quest to serve a second term as mayor, 2017 has been marked by Murray’s efforts to to push back on policies championed by the new Trump administration. In its most recent swipe, Murray has led the way for the City of Seattle to sue the administration over its threats to cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities.

After 18 years serving in the legislature in Olympia, Murray cruised to easy victory in November 2013 over incumbent Mike McGinn thanks in part to strong support on his home turf in the Capitol Hill neighborhood where the champion of LGBTQ civil rights has made his home since the ’80s. The Capitol Hill resident and Seattle’s first openly gay mayor launched his campaign with a big head start last summer in a party at big time political PR executive Roger Nyhus’s home near Volunteer Park. Murray has told CHS about his time as a tenant on Capitol Hill where he said he rented for 15 years before buying his North Capitol Hill home where he lives with spouse Michael Shiosaki.

The short statement was broadcast live via Facebook by several media organizations including Q13 Fox

The short statement was broadcast live via Facebook by several media organizations including Q13 Fox

UPDATE 4/7/17 3:02 PM: In an afternoon media conference, Murray said he will not step down and plans to continue his run for reelection calling the accusations “untrue allegations” that have been “very painful.” “I understand the individual is troubled,” Murray said of his accuser. “This makes me sad, too.”

Murray said the allegations are “are simply not true” but declined to take questions, saying the situation is a legal matter to handle in the courts.

“I will not back down now,” Murray said.

UPDATE 4/11/2017: The mayor’s legal team went on the offensive Tuesday releasing a medical report they say shows the case against Murray is bogus:

Speaking to reporters today, Murray’s lawyer, Bob Sulkin, said Murray’s longtime doctor examined him this morning and wrote the report. When asked whether the mayor would subject to another medical examination by a doctor who doesn’t know him, Sulkin said yes, if that was ordered by a judge. “We have to understand what the heart of the accuser’s allegation is,” Sulkin said. “It’s the detailing of Mayor Murray’s private anatomy. Sure, addresses and phone numbers are publicly available—not important. But this is the heart of the allegation.” Sulkin dismissed the other two accusers’ stories as “debunked.”

Chair of Washington Human Rights Commission brings fight for dignity, equality to Seattle City Council race

Charlene Strong, left, with wife Courteney Bealko and their children, Etta and Anders (Image: Elect Charlene Strong)

Charlene Strong, left, with wife Courteney Bealko and their children, Etta and Anders (Image: Elect Charlene Strong)

Charlene Strong, a human rights advocate, is hoping to take her work a step further by as a Seattle City Council member. She is running for Position 8.

Like many others in Seattle who watched in shock as Donald Trump was elected president in November, the event pushed Strong into action and she decided to run for office.

“How did we as such smart, intelligent people not anticipate this big, huge political backlash?,” Strong pondered in an interview with CHS.

The 53-year-old wife and mother who runs a physical therapy practice in Interbay with her wife and is the chair of the Washington State Human Rights Commission said people had asked her when she’s going to run. Now, they have an answer. Continue reading

Murray scraps plan for Seattle homelessness levy

Though I-126 has been scrapped, the survey that shaped some of the ways in which its revenues would have been deployed provided new insights into homelessness in Seattle

Though I-126 has been scrapped, the survey that shaped some of the ways in which its revenues would have been deployed provided new insights into homelessness in Seattle

I-126, Seattle’s proposed $275 million homelessness levy, is not going to happen.

In one of the fastest political reversals so far in 2017, Mayor Ed Murray said that despite “passionate support,” a campaign to create a new Seattle property tax to support homelessness services has been put on ice just days after its launch.

Murray joined King County Executive Dow Constantine Monday to announce a proposed county ballot measure to boost the county sales tax to pay for new shelters, services, and housing. Continue reading

Them’s the brakes: Drivers celebrate removal of public bike share from their Seattle streets with jubilant parking

Capitol Hill commuters took their final rides until who knows when on a Seattle public bike share Friday. The city’s Pronto system will shutter at midnight. Don’t forget to dock your bike.

The shutdown comes after two and a half years of service following the system’s October 2014 launch. Back then, around a third of Capitol Hill-identifying respondents told CHS they planned to use the share at least monthly. That might have marked peak enthusiasm for the troubled, limited, and ultimately uncharacteristically underused system. Continue reading

Long-term fix for First Hill Streetcar likely to take months, bill to be determined

IMG_0702The First Hill Streetcar went back into operation at 5 AM on Monday after a sliding incident on March 1 took it out of service. Short-term fixes and precautions have been put in place until a long-term solution is ready, which could take months. And, while a bill for the 20-day outage and repairs is still being tabulated, officials told a City Council committee Tuesday afternoon that Seattle shouldn’t be on the hook for the costs.

“If we go the direction that we’ve kind of talked about, some of those components have to be specifically ordered and manufactured, and that’s a two month period just to get the components made in Germany,” Michael James, with the Seattle Department of Transportation said. “So we’re probably talking months not weeks.”

SDOT did not provide an estimated cost due to the service failure, but James said it appears to be manufacturer Inekon’s or its insurance company’s responsibility to cover costs from the service closure, which could include work to get the streetcar operating again and bus service provided during peak travel times on the route by King County Metro. Continue reading

Seattle City Council approves nation’s first Renters’ Commission

Council member Tim Burgess

Council member Tim Burgess

Applause followed the City Council’s unanimous approval of an ordinance creating a Seattle Renters’ Commission on Monday.

“This was truly a grassroots effort that started up on Capitol Hill and will now benefit the entire city of Seattle,” Council member and prime sponsor Tim Burgess said.

“We just want to give renters a formal voice here at City Hall,” he said. “… Renters need landlords and landlords need renters, so if this commission can help bridge that relationship then that will be a positive move for our city.” Continue reading

Yes on I-127 effort underway to put Seattle rent transparency initiative on ballot

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.31 PM

Current rental cost datasets must be collected from sources like Craigslist while developers often have access to the most robust reporting based on property management analysis

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.25 PM On Monday, the City Council is expected to approve formation of the Seattle Renters’ Commission, thought to be the first commission of its kind representing tenant interests at a United States city hall. Another group is beginning its work in the rain this Friday afternoon to also create a better, more transparent, and more trackable future for Seattle renters.

Yes on I-127 have been given approval to begin collecting the some 16,000 20,638 or signatures they will need to get their initiative on the ballot calling for Seattle landlords to provide detailed breakdowns of rents and rent increases to tenants and share that information with the city. “By breaking down costs included in monthly rent, tenants can better understand cost of rents and rent increases associated with their homes,” the group contends. “They can also use this information to plan and prepare for the future.” Proponents say the initiative would give the city “an apparatus to track rent trends.” “This allows both the city and its residents to study and understand our rental market,” they write.

Devin Silvernail tells CHS the initiative is an outgrowth of volunteers coming together through the tenant bootcamps his Be:Seattle is organizing across the city. The next camp, by the way, is next week in the Central District.

Silvernail said the effort to collect signatures for I-127 by September to make the ballot this fall — 10% of the total number of votes in the last mayoral election is the goal — is underway and you should expect to see volunteers around Capitol Hill Station.

You can learn more at

Seattle now has an anti-discrimination hotline

An effort to better document and respond to discrimination in the city includes a new Seattle hotline to call if you have been the victim of harassment:

Whether at home, at work, or in a public place, everyone is protected from discriminatory harassment.  Discriminatory harassment or violence is behavior that interferes with your civil rights and is directed at you because of your race, religion, gender and/or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, and more.  It can include: threats, slurs or epithets, intimidation or coercion, violence or use of force, damaging or defacing property and cyberbullying.

Reporting discriminatory harassment is easy, and can be done anonymously.  Call the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) to get started at 206-233-7100 or CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT OUR ONLINE COMPLAINT FORM

Officials say the hotline is an effort to augment existing public safety services — so definitely call 911 to report or a crime or if there is a dangerous situation. The hotline provides another avenue to make sure issues beyond law enforcement can be raised as quickly as possible.

Last month, CHS reported on SPD’s new bias crimes statistics dashboard and trends that capture the increase in reported incidents — thanks, in part, to a greater emphasis on reporting racial, sexual orientation, or religious harassment issues. Citywide in both 2016 and 2015, hate crimes against race were the most frequently reported followed by LGBTQ and religious incidents.

Officials from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights said the new hotline is also being accompanied by meetings with community groups and a media campaign to make sure citizens are aware of the resource.

You can learn more at

Capitol Hill tenant rights group wants your voice to support Seattle Renters’ Commission legislation

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 3.18.44 PMLegislation to form a first in the nation City Hall commission representing tenants could have its final session in front of a Seattle City Council committee Wednesday and the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative is calling for a show of support to help push the bill through to a final vote:

We need renters at this meeting to show the Council and the City that we are civically engaged and eager to have our voices heard. As we move closer to the full council vote, we must continue to show up at key events for this ground-breaking piece of legislation. Equally as important as attending this meeting, we need renters there to give a short (1-2 min) testimony. This testimony could be as simple as sharing your renter story and expressing your opinion on this piece of legislation. See you there!

Can’t attend this meeting? Take 5 minutes to email/call the council!
Council contact information here:

The legislation will be part of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee’s morning session starting with public comment at 9:30 AM. Take a moment to add a brief email comment tonight.

CHS wrote here on early support for the Seattle Renters’ Commission. A substitute version of the bill will be up for discussion Wednesday. You can see the draft marked with changes in red here (PDF). You’ll note that the express inclusion of “renters who have experienced homelessness” as a desired part of the commission’s makeup is the most significant change.

The bill would create a 15-member commission to give renters in the city a voice on not only tenant rights and affordability issues but also related concerns like transportation access and economic development. It is also hoped to help further shape initiatives under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

UPDATE: The legislation has been passed out of committee and will head to the full council on Monday where it is expected to be approved. Officials hope for the commission to begin meeting this summer after a spring application and approval process.