Coalition Files Ethics Complaint Against the Mayor and Vulcan for Violations of City Ethics Rules

for more information and copy of complaint contact: John V. Fox 206-632-0668              Date:   March 24, 2004

Today the Coalition filed a complaint with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) showing that Paul Allen's Vulcan Development Company made prohibited contributions to the Mayor's Office Fund in 2002 and 2003 in violation of SEEC Rule 12.1.A.. During this period when they made these contributions to the office fund, Vulcan was under contract to the City of Seattle and also was actively negotiating and pursuing other lucrative contracts with the City. This is an explicit violation of Rule 12.1.A. of SEEC Election Code Rules barring parties from making donations to the office fund while under contract or while affirmatively pursuing a contract with the City. (See SEEC Election Code Rule 12.1.A)

These violations of Rule 12.1.A. come at a time the SEEC is actually considering the possibility of eliminating this rule. A request as been made to the SEEC by an attorney from one of Seattle's major corporate law firms routinely entering into contracts with the City to eliminate this rule. One of the other members of his law firm assists Vulcan in its Real Estate transactions. In fact tomorrow at 9:30 at the SEEC's retreat Room 4096 Key Tower 700 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA at 9:30AM, the SEEC will be discussing this very possibility with the attorney who has made the request. The Displacement Coalition will be present and ask for an opportunity to speak and to oppose any consideration of elimination of this important rule. The Coalition in fact will ask that the rule be strengthened.

We have attached the full complaint: (for copies of accompanying documentation, please call us at 632-0668

Summary of our Complaint:
We are today filing a formal complaint against Vulcan Inc and Mayor Nickels for violations of SEEC Election Code Rules - Administrative Rule 12.1.A - Prohibiting persons who are a party to a current city contract from donating to the office fund of an elected official and barring elected officials from accepting such contributions. We also are seeking imposition of appropriate penalties including but not limited to return of the funds, fines, and other remedies the Commission deems appropriate consistent with its authority

After a review of contributions made to Mayor Nickels Office Fund, obtained through public disclosure request, it has come to our attention that that Vulcan Inc has made at least two contributions of $250 each to the Mayorís Office fund. The first of these contributions was made on April 23rd 2002 and the second in the same amount was made on March 31st 2003. We have enclosed copies of C-3 records from the Mayorís office confirming these contributions. (See Attached Exhibits #1 and #2 respectively)

Further, we have found documents obtained through public disclosure request indicating that as far back as September of 2000, representative of Seattle City Light, the Mayorís Office and other city departmental representatives have been engaged in extensive meetings with Vulcan over the future of South Lake Union. We also have learned from a review of these materials that growing out of these continuing discussions, Vulcan and the City have entered into at least one contractual relationship and were planning, or have already entered into, at least one other contractual relationship with Vulcan.

First, Vulcan entered into contract with City Light to donate to and participate in completion of a study on creating a 135 million dollar energy district in South Lake Union of which they would be a direct beneficiary. This contract was signed in which Vulcan also donated and made a loan to the City towards completion of the study. The study was being conducted through 2002 and 2003 during period that Vulcan donated to the Mayorís Office Fund.

Second, since 2000, through the period Vulcan donated to the Mayorís Office Fund, the City, including the Mayorís office, and Vulcan have been actively engaged in a partnership leading towards purchase and joint development of a site in South Lake Union where a new energy substation would be co-located with a Vulcan development. This deal they were actively pursuing and may still be actively pursuing or it may have been completed by now and would be enormously lucrative to Vulcan. Further during this period, we found at least one other contract with the City obligating Vulcan to perform during the period they were donating to the Mayor's office fund.

The City Council soon will be making key decisions fundamentally affecting Mr. Allenís land holdings and development plans in S. Lake Union. These decisions could lead to tens of millions of dollars in subsidies for Paul Allenís plans and produce enormous profits as the value of his land appreciates as a result of these city subsidies. These public policy decisions also could set off a level of development in S. Lake Union that will have enormous implications for the entire city both in terms of its cost to taxpayers and in terms of how that growth will affect the physical and social character of all Seattle neighborhoods. From our point of view, not only is the integrity of the Cityís democratic processes at stake but so is the future of our city.  While Vulcan's contributions to the office fund are relatively small, an abuse of these rules is no small matter when it is being abused by a company that is quite literally dictating public policy in South Lake Union to their direct benefit.

For more information, contact us at this e-mail or call 632-0668  


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