Judge rules that recall petition against Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant can proceed

Judge rules that recall petition against Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant can proceed
Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. (KIRO 7 News)

A King County Superior Court judge decided in a hearing Wednesday the recall petition against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant can proceed.

Judge Jim Rogers found four of the six charges leveled against Sawant to be specific enough and sufficient to permit the process to continue.

It’s the second recall effort against a Seattle elected official amid mass protests against police violence and systemic racism.

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Rogers wrote “the petitioner has shown actual knowledge of facts indicating that the Councilmember intended to commit an unlawful act.”

According to a petition with a statement of charges against Sawant, there were six claims submitted to King County for why she should be recalled from office. But on Friday, the petitioner, Ernest Lou, said he was dropping charges four and six, as seen below, according to Seattle City Council Insight.

  1. That she delegated city employment decisions to a political organization outside city government
  2. Used city resources to support a ballot initiative and failed to comply with public disclosure requirements
  3. Disregarded state orders related to COVID-19 and endangered the safety of city workers and others by using her passkey to allow hundreds of protesters into a locked Seattle City Hall after hours on June 9, 2020
  4. Used her official position to encourage those attending a June 28, 2020 rally to illegally occupy the Seattle Police Department East Precinct when the city was trying to de-escalate violence in the area (This charge was dismissed).
  5. Violated confidentially laws by leading a protest march to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s private home
  6. Encouraged protesters to occupy the Seattle Police Department East Precinct and helped create the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Zone, “which turned into a violent criminal environment that negatively impacted local businesses and residents.” (This charge was dismissed).

Rogers did not weigh in on whether the charges were true, only whether if the alleged charges, if true, were legally sufficient for her to be recalled.

Rogers ruled that charges one, two, three and five define “substantial conduct clearly amounting to misfeasance, malfeasance or a violation of the oath of office” and there is no legal justification for the challenged conduct. The four charges were ordered certified.

Charges four and six were dismissed.

The second charge regarding the use of city resources relates to Sawant’s “tax Amazon” campaign.

Sawant’s lawyer Dmitri Iglitzin said in arguments that recall petitioners were trying to redo her elections because they disagree with her politics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.