Breaking: Marxist Seattle Councilwoman Faces Recall after Leading Protesters to Mayor’s Home, Misusing City Funds

Just weeks after Seattle voters rejected a slate of hard-left progressive candidates for mayor, city council, and city attorney, residents of the city's most liberal district will have the opportunity to boot one of the country's most radical elected officials from office.

Mail ballots for the recall of Kshama Sawant, Seattle's open Marxist city councilwoman, have been sent to the roughly 76,000 voters in the city's third district ahead of the December 7 election.

Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party, has naturally blasted the effort as a "big business-backed, right-wing recall" funded by Republican donors and supporters of former president Donald Trump. But the organizers of the recall insist that it's being driven by regular voters of the far-left district who have tired of Sawant's radical antics. The recall, they argue, is not based on Sawant’s politics, but is instead rooted in her regular disregard for the law.

"It's not about her ideologies," Henry Bridger II, the director of the recall campaign, told National Review. "District 3 is the most liberal district in Seattle, and Seattle is one of the most liberal cities in the nation. We are not focusing on ideologies. I hold some of those ideologies. So, it's not about who she is, where she's from, her skin color, her sex, or anything. It's clearly holding a politician accountable for breaking the law."

In Washington, politicians can only be recalled for "malfeasance, misfeasance, or violation of their oath of office." Because of that, the organizers of the recall, which has been approved by the courts, are focusing on three charges against Sawant.

First, in June 2020, in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minnesota, Sawant used her keys to open the door to city hall, and she allowed in more than 1,000 anti-police protesters for a rally in violation of the state's coronavirus lockdown orders. Later that month, Sawant helped lead a march of anti-police protesters to Mayor Jenny Durkan's home. The address of Durkan's home is supposed to be confidential because she is a former federal prosecutor.

And in early May, Sawant agreed to pay a $3,500 fine as part of a settlement with the city's ethics and elections commission for using city funds to help pay for her ballot initiative to institute a payroll tax on high-paying jobs at Amazon and other big Seattle businesses. Sawant used her official city-council website to promote the initiative, created posters in support of the initiative using the city of Seattle seal, and spent more than $1,700 in city funds on the effort.

Sawant insists she's done nothing wrong. She has never been charged with a crime, she said during a recent debate with Bridger. The march to the mayor's home was organized not by her, but by families whose loved ones were killed by Seattle police, she said. The city hall rally was "peaceful" and "COVID-safe," and "played a historic role in helping to win the first in the nation ban on police use of chemical weapons." And her ethics-commission settlement was based on a "minor" complaint "for which I have already paid a fine."

"Let's be clear, the recall is not about this," Sawant said. "What big business is angry about is that the movement I helped lead won the Amazon tax. Corporate landlords are backing the recall because they're livid we won unprecedented renters' rights."

The charges against her, she said, "are an attack on Black Lives Matter activists, an attempt to criminalize peaceful protest, and an effort at blatant voter suppression." And, of course, it's all being orchestrated by right-wingers, she has said repeatedly.

"What else can Sawant say? She talks constantly about big corporate influence and fat-cat billionaires," said Paul Guppy, research director at the Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan free-market think tank that is not involved in the recall effort.

Guppy told National Review that Sawant's constant agitation and antics are "wearing thin," even with many progressive Seattle residents. For example, on her city-council website, Sawant rails against "the existing profit-hungry capitalist system," pledges to "fight for a socialist society," and says that her office "will proudly continue to serve as an organizing center for movements to fight for that change." In 2017, Sawant wrote an article in the socialist magazine Jacobin, calling for a "wave of protests and strikes" on May Day, and "mass peaceful civil disobedience that shuts down highways, airports, and other key infrastructure."

"She's always leading demonstrations and disruptions and things like that," Guppy said. "It's not her agenda, her socialist ideas that are necessarily being rejected. It's her radical style."

The recall campaign was launched in August 2020, by a district resident who argued that "Sawant's actions and policy positions do not represent the values and views of the majority of those who live in District 3," according to a campaign launch press release.

Unemployed because of the COVID pandemic, Bridger said he joined the campaign "because I was getting stir-crazy, I wanted to do something." As campaign manager, he has tightened the focus of the recall exclusively on Sawant's alleged misdeeds, not her politics. Bridger describes himself as a gay man and a progressive who is only "probably one step to her right."

"Anyone who disagrees with her or is not in 100 percent lockstep with her, she calls right-wing, and calls them Republicans, she calls them names. She's a bully," Bridger said. "It's the same rhetoric over and over and over. And everything she says, you're right-wing, you're right-wing, you're right-wing. There's probably less than 1,000 Republicans in our district."

The recall, he said, "is totally being done and funded by regular people."

The editorial board of the Seattle Times has urged voters to "resoundingly vote yes" on the recall, arguing that Sawant has demonstrated "an utter disregard for the city's business community," and has "inserted rudeness, bullying and shoddy ethics into City Hall."

Bridger said volunteers for the recall have had rocks thrown at them, been spit on, and have been physically attacked by people grabbing petitions and ripping them up. In a Seattle TV news report, Bridger said Sawant's supporters have returned petition envelopes filled with rocks and feces. Her supporters, he said, have vandalized homes and threatened recall volunteers.

"I've had seven death threats," Bridger said.

One of Bridgers's complaints is that Sawant doesn't work with constituents who don't agree with her radical socialist politics. She admitted as much at the end of her debate with him.

"The recall claims that I don't represent everyone in the district. I don't," she said. "I don't claim to represent the multimillionaires and billionaires and corporate landlords, who either live in the district or make money off the renters in our district. I proudly represent working-class people who want a progressive city."

Both sides accuse the other of failing to get the recall initiative on the November general-election ballot. Sawant claims the recall organizers intentionally dragged their feet, sat on signatures, and turned their petitions in too late to get on the November ballot. She called it a "classic right-wing voter suppression tactic."

"Having an election between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are hoping that most people are turned off," she said in the debate. "They hope for a broad disenfranchisement of young people, workers, and renters."

Bridger insists that he wanted the recall to be on the November ballot. "I tried hard," he said. But he claims that Sawant's team interfered in the signature-gathering and verification process by collecting about 3,200 signatures themselves, more than 1,000 of which were invalid. Bridger's team missed the deadline to make the November ballot by two weeks, he said.

It's not clear that being on the November ballot would have benefitted Sawant. During that election, Seattle residents voted decidedly for more moderate, pro-police candidates for mayor, city council, and city attorney. Ann Davison, who won her race for city attorney, will be the first elected Republican in Seattle in over a decade.

Guppy said Sawant, who was first elected in 2013, has been on the leading edge of Seattle's drift to the hard left. After the chaos of 2020, voters in the city seem to be moderating a bit.

"It's one thing to kind of signal that you're sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter, and that you're a good anti-racist person, that whole ideology. Oh man, the people in Seattle will go for that big time," Guppy said. "But when it creates chaos right on their doorstep, they start to get tired of it. And what they desire is peaceful, normal, functioning government."



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Marxist Seattle Councilwoman Faces Recall after Leading Protesters to Mayor’s Home, Misusing City Funds

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