The campaign says it is also addressing an issue over campaign finance reporting for its Central District office.
The advertising complaint was sparked by the decision to include “sponsor identification” information inside the Stranger edition — not on the cover as required by the Seattle Elections Code.
The ad sparked controversy by making it appear to some that Orion had won the alternative media outlet’s coveted endorsement. But inside, the paper again endorsed incumbent Kshama Sawant.
“‘Paid Advertisement’ ran on the ad and the disclaimer was on the full page ad, but we made a mistake and we own it,” Orion campaign manager Olga Laskin tells CHS.
“We settled this issue with the SEEC so that we can get back to focusing on issues important to District 3 voters, like the homelessness crisis, affordability, transportation, and the climate crisis.”
“Things are moving fast on the campaign,” she added.
Stranger writer Chase Burns who filed a separate complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission over the ad in his employer’s publication, tells CHS he is “glad the SEEC agrees that the Egan for Seattle sponsor ID should have been on the first page of the ad.”
“I think Mike McGinn said it well on KUOW yesterday: ‘This is really inappropriate behavior from the Orion campaign and the election regulators should come down hard on this because a small fine isn’t going to deter anybody. They’ll just do it again because that Stranger cover is worth a lot, speaking from experience,'” Burns wrote.
Stranger publisher Laurie Saito says the Orion campaign “had no prior knowledge of what the Stranger cover would look like.”
She also backed up her writer’s choice to file the complaint. “Chase’s decision to file a complaint regarding the missing sponsor ID on the cover ad is in line with our ongoing reporting on political ad transparency,” Saito writes. “I do not disagree with one of our reporters for pointing out the infraction, even if it was on one of the Stranger’s own advertisers.”
Saito also said the incident won’t result in any policy changes related to Stranger political ad sales “as no company policies were broken in this instance.”
Laskin, meanwhile, said the separate state PDC complaint over the ad is also “being settled.” We’ve checked in with the commission to learn more. UPDATE: “We will review the complaint in light of SEEC’s decision and determine whether additional action is warranted,” a spokesperson tells CHS.
Orion’s isn’t the only campaign in the historically expensive D3 race to face an inquiry over an ethics complaint. In March, complaints related to the political group Socialist Alternative and its influence in Sawant’s office were dismissed by the SEEC.
Orion, meanwhile, is also facing another complaint over his campaign office on Central District property owned by Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg.
After CHS’s report about the office, a reader noticed the state’s PDC disclosure information for Orion’s campaign did not include either an expense for renting the space or a contribution for an in-kind donation.
Laskin says the issue “was an oversight on the part of our treasurer” and that the campaign’s reporting is being amended.
For those hungry to add more to their decision in the D3 race than campaign funding and ethics complaints, Friday night will bring another area candidate forum with local issues at the center of discussion.
The Young Voters League and the Central Area Collaborative will host the Showdown in Africatown Voter Forum 2019 Friday starting at 7 PM at the Central Area Senior Center. Both Sawant and Orion are confirmed to attend, according to organizers.
Recent CHS Election 2019 Coverage
- Di$trict 3: Orion drops new ad about campaign funding, Sawant has cash ‘EMERGENCY’
- With ballots out, here’s where District 3 candidates stand on housing and affordability
- Sawant vs. Orion on police accountability: ‘Public safety problems are not because we don’t have enough police, it’s because of inequality’
- At public safety candidates forum, Orion makes call to ‘stabilize’ force, Sawant makes statement by passing on Seattle Police Officer Guild event
- In debate over arts and culture in Seattle, District 3 candidates again paint ‘tax the corporations’ vs. ‘pro-business’ contrasts
- All Election 2019 Coverage
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