The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has announced it has dismissed two complaints lodged against District 3 representative Kshama Sawant over allegations the City Council member misused her position on behalf of her Socialist Alternative political organization.
“Fundamentally, I believe that elected officials are free to structure their decision-making process as they wish, subject to the will of the voters every four years,” SEEC director Wayne Barnett writes in his decision. “Campaigns are won and lost based on voters’ estimations of whose interests elected officials are serving and who interests they are not. I do not find the way Councilmember Sawant makes her decisions to be a misuse of the position.”
The dismissal covers two complaints filed against Sawant including one from District 3 opponent Logan Bowers.
The complaints followed publication of documents by the Seattle City Council Insight news site and further reporting from CHS about how Socialist Alternative calls the shots in the Sawant office. “The IEC agrees that the running and staffing of KS’s office in Seattle be agreed by the national EC of the organisation in consultation with KS,” a resolution adopted by Socialist Alternative’s National Executive Committee in December 2017 reads. According to other internal Socialist Alternative documents, decisions about who is — and is not — on Sawant’s city office staff are also made at an organizational level.
According to the SEEC decision, Sawant was interviewed about her work with the Seattle Executive Committee of Socialist Alternative but Barnett, found that decisions ultimately laid with Sawant:
Barrett said allegations related to Socialist Alternative-paid travel were also unfounded and that there was not enough information to investigate allegations that Sawant had shared confidential personnel documents with Socialist Alternative.
Sawant has faced down ethics complaints before. Last year, there were at least four complaints made against the council member alleging “use of taxpayer-funded resources to promote a political agenda” — each was dismissed.
The full report from the SEEC is below.