Di$trict 3: $500/month for a Central District office? Campaign supplies from Amazon? Why did Sawant pay more than Orion for similar ad?

With only one more week to go before ballot drop boxes close at 8 PM on Election Day, we don’t have any results on who leads in D3 yet — be sure to check in here for updates on Tuesday.

What’s sure, meanwhile, is that District 3 is currently leading among other districts. With over 10,000 ballots returned, the District is again out in the lead for voter turnout among Seattle’s seven districts. And, with a total of $1,247,788 raised between incumbent Kshama Sawant and challenger Egan Orion, D3 also leads as the most expensive and, currently, only million-dollar race in the city.

No, CHS won’t theorize about the potential correlation. Instead, we’ll take a look at some fresh numbers on spending from the campaigns and PACs, as well as an update on complaints against Orion’s campaign with the State’s Public Disclosure Commission. But first, let’s start with a poll.

New poll likely cost a lot… but what does it say? On Monday, CASE, the political arm from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, sent out results from a new district-level poll conducted by EMC Research between October 17 and October 24. It’s not clear how much this specific poll cost, but according to PDC filings, CASE has paid EMC Research nearly $240,000 for polling/research during the campaign, which includes a recent expenditure of $14,800 — so it’s safe to say this poll was not cheap. Continue reading

In Africatown ‘showdown,’ Sawant and Orion trade blows over who shows up — and who calls each campaign’s shots

Stills from Africatown Seattle’s video of Friday’s forum

Tensions have been building in District 3’s Seattle City Council race for months.

After a recent forum, candidate Egan Orion even texted CHS: “Gloves are off.”

This friction was only intensified after Amazon’s recent $1 million contribution to the business-friendly Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, which has endorsed Orion over Socialist Alternative incumbent Kshama Sawant.

In recent days, Sawant has been able to earn the support of fellow progressive city council members who had been reluctant to endorse her due in part to her sometimes polarizing governing tactics. The tech giant’s heavy-handed spending has apparently changed their minds.

These tensions spilled over into a Friday night forum — just a week and a half from election day — at the Central Area Senior Center as Sawant and Orion swapped jabs on their attendance records and the sources of their support: the chamber for Orion and the national network of Socialist Alternative for Sawant.  Continue reading

Response to Amazon cash helps Sawant secure key new allies — her fellow council members

González, Sawant, Mosqueda, and Morales at Thursday’s protest (Image: @TeresaCMosqueda)

It is too early to say if Amazon’s massive injections of cash into Seattle City Council races has backfired but it has helped District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant earn a key victory she had so far failed to win on her own in her battle against challenger Egan Orion — the support of her fellow council members.

Friday morning, Sawant’s campaign made the official announcement of key endorsements for the Socialist Alternative candidate from the council’s two citywide representatives — Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González.

“It is critical that progressives and socialists are uniting against big business and their blatant attempt to buy the elections,” Sawant said in a statement on the endorsements. “We stand together in saying that Seattle is not for sale! These corporate interests don’t just want to defeat me and other progressive candidates like Shaun Scott and Tammy Morales, they want to roll back the historic victories working people have won in Seattle, like the $15/hour minimum wage, the hotel workers bill of rights, and our landmark renters rights policies.”

The move from Mosqueda and González follows their appearance Thursday with Sawant at a protest outside the Amazon Spheres against the company’s decision to pump some $1.5 million into the downtown chamber of commerce’s PAC and support of candidates championing business friendly — and anti-head tax — platforms. Continue reading

Money well spent? District 3 voters lead, again, in Seattle turnout

Those pumping corporate and grassroots cash into the District 3 race for the Seattle City Council are getting their money’s worth. D3 is, again, out in the lead for voter turnout among Seattle’s seven districts.

According to the latest report from King County Elections, District 3 voters have already returned more than 5,000 ballots since they were mailed out last week — about 6.9% of the total 74,000 registered to vote across Capitol Hill, the Central District, First Hill, Madison Park, Montlake, and the nearby neighborhoods that make up the district.

In the August Primary, D3 also led the way, sniffing 50% turnout. The district has also added 1,000 registered voters since then, more than 30% of the city’s 3,500 “new” voters.

Ballots must be returned or post marked by 8 PM on November 5th. You don’t need a stamp to mail your ballot or you can turn it in at the drop box on Broadway at Seattle Central. More information on returning your ballot here.

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Paying $1K fine, Orion settles ethics complaint over Stranger cover ad

(Image: SEEC)

District 3 challenger Egan Orion has opted to pay a $1,000 fine to settle a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission complaint over his campaign’s purchase of a controversial $6,300 “wrapper” ad on The Stranger’s October 9th endorsement edition.

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. Continue reading

Di$trict 3: Orion drops new ad about campaign funding, Sawant has cash ‘EMERGENCY’

A screenshot from the new Orion TV ad

Meanwhile, some our taking the production of pro-Sawant campaign materials into their own hands (Image: @NoBatteries)

“Who is funding our local elections?”

If you ask D3 city council candidates Egan Orion and incumbent Kshama Sawant, they’ll tell you to look in very different directions for the answer to the question that has become a flashpoint overshadowing other issues in this year’s election.

From the start, Sawant said the election would be a referendum on “who runs Seattle: Amazon and big business, or working people.”

Yesterday, a week after Amazon poured over $1M into the city council election, Orion launched a new ad with a voiceover leveling a de facto response to Sawant’s early rallying cry: ”Who has a voice in City Hall? The Socialist Alternative party or your neighbors right here in Seattle?”

CHS takes a closer look at the ad, plus, give you some campaign war chest updates as well as more insight into what exactly candidates are spending their money on, below.

Orion wants to talk about campaign finance too:  Orion’s new ad, in which he touts his local support, is titled “Who is funding our local elections?

Some, surely, would respond “Amazon,” but the 30-second clip doesn’t mention the cash the corporate behemoth and others have pumped in local elections via CASE, the political arm of the Chamber of Commerce, which has supported Orion with over $300,000 in independent expenditures.  Continue reading

With ballots out, here’s where District 3 candidates stand on housing and affordability

A view from a Pike/Pine crane

Kshama Sawant once again took on corporations and challenger Egan Orion was a no show in a forum on housing and homelessness Monday downtown, posing next month’s election as one between a champion of the working class against a business-backed candidate.

“Amazon, big business, the [Seattle Metropolitan] Chamber of Commerce are engaged in an attempted hostile corporate takeover of this election,” Sawant said. “They want to flip City Hall to the right.”

Sawant has made this pitch at countless forums in the past several months, but this time her opponent wasn’t there to defend himself. Challenger Orion didn’t attend the forum despite being listed as confirmed to attend on the organizer’s website. The Broadway Business Improvement Area head — who has been the beneficiary of more than $163,000 in independent expenditures from the Amazon-funded Chamber’s political action committee in the general election — didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

On housing, Sawant highlighted her controversial push for citywide residential rent control, which she has pushed despite little momentum in Olympia to overturn the statewide ban on the practice.

“It is going to be the most important citywide anti-displacement strategy because people who are homeless now or economically evicted now, today, will be economically evicted next year, next month, even next week,” Sawant said, after also calling for commercial rent control and ending sweeps of homeless encampments.  Continue reading

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren weigh in on Amazon cash shaping District 3 race

Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders weighed in on what has — surprise, surprise —  become the biggest issue in the District 3 race for the Seattle City Council — campaign finance.

“In a city struggling with homelessness, Amazon is dropping an outrageous amount of money to defeat progressive candidates fighting for working people,” Sanders wrote in a social media post sharing a report from The Nation on the company’s targeting of D3 representative Kshama Sawant. “The way Amazon conducts itself in its hometown is a perfect example of the out-of-control corporate greed we are going to end,” Sanders wrote, adding his campaign pitch.

Monday’s message from Sanders followed another over the weekend from Senator Elizabeth Warren sharing the New York Times take on the situation. Continue reading

Sawant vs. Orion on police accountability: ‘Public safety problems are not because we don’t have enough police, it’s because of inequality’

It was a busy 24 hours for police accountability in Seattle.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling clarifying that the city still needs to correct issues in its police accountability system. These problems led Robart to rule earlier this year that the Seattle Police Department had fallen partly out of compliance with a 2012 federal consent decree mandating that the city address allegations of bias in policing and the use of excessive force.

Robart also ruled Tuesday that, in finding ways to mend flaws in the SPD’s internal investigations of officer misconduct, Seattle may consult outside advisers.

And on Wednesday, an internal SPD inquiry found that an officer acted reasonably when he shot and killed a man armed with a handgun after a traffic stop last year, a shooting that has drawn deep scrutiny.

So Wednesday’s night’s police accountability forum at Centilia Cultural Center in Beacon Hill with candidates from many of the Seattle City Council races, was timely to say the least. And this time, both Kshama Sawant and Egan Orion were there. Continue reading

Di$trict 3: Amazon pumps over $1M into Seattle elections — What it means for District 3

Sphere of influence (Image: Amazon)

Remember that time when we reported that independent spending from Political Action Committees had soared to unprecedented heights? That was a week ago.

Campaign finance has become even more, um, unprecedented this week with the announcement Tuesday that Amazon is pouring an additional $1.05 million into CASE, the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, right when ballots are sent to voters this week.

That brings the local corporation’s spending on this year’s local elections to $1.45 million, more than any other union or Political Action Committee.

With $241,257 already spent on his behalf by CASE (mostly on mail and canvassing), D3 candidate Egan Orion is its largest beneficiary.

To give you a sense of the magnitude of this week’s contribution: Amazon’s total contribution to the PAC now adds up to more than the combined $1.27 million City Council candidates opposed by the PAC have raised. That group includes incumbent Kshama Sawant in D3, who has raised the most of any council candidate — $387,730.

“The money CASE has raised is from local companies who care about the future of this city,” Markham McIntyre, executive director of CASE, said in a statement. “The status quo isn’t working: we have a dysfunctional, toxic environment at City Council, and employers, including our city’s largest private employer, want a return to good government.”

The contribution brings CASE’s total spending power for this election up to $2.68 million, of which it has spent $1.3 million.

In a statement, Orion called the influx of PAC money in city politics this year “completely out of scale with the grassroots campaign myself and many others are trying to run and is proving to be a distraction from the real issues.”  Continue reading