Mayor Returns Vulcan's Illegal Office Fund Contributions in Wake of Coalition's Complaint
(May 24th, 2004)
While denying wrongdoing, the Mayor returns illegal office fund
contributions from Vulcan:
In response to the Coalition's complaint filed earlier today with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) charging illegal contributions to the Mayor's Office Fund by Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. - We have just learned that the Mayor will be returning the contributions he received from Vulcan in 2002 and 2003. According to an article now posted on the Seattle Times website, while denying any wrongdoing, the Mayor's office says they are returning the Vulcan contributions because "they might appear improper." The Mayor's office goes on to accuse us of "attempting to derail the good things happening in South Lake Union". Vulcan piles on accusing us of "misguided antics" and "the reason why Seattle has struggled to become a world class city." http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001886969_webethics24.html
In response we would only say that our complaint with accompanying documentation speaks for itself. It provides ample detail outlining on-going contracts and agreements that Vulcan has with the City and other possible deals now being affirmatively pursued by Vulcan with the City. Rule 12.1.A. of the SEEC Rules is specific on this point - no contributions to elected officials' office fund from people under contract or affirmatively pursuing contracts with the City. Vulcan should not have made these contributions nor should the Mayor have accepted them....both parties are in violation of the rules. It's as simple as that. Regardless of whether or not the Mayor has returned these illegal contributions, we will ask the Ethics Commission to vigorously pursue this matter and impose prescribed penalties if only to send a strong message to other parties not to play fast and loose with these rules. At the state level the rules and penalties are actually even more strict that Seattl'e rules.
As we state in our complaint:
"Contribution to public office funds, as in the case of Vulcanís contributions to Nickels office fund, can become a way of skirting city campaign contribution limits and paving the way for contractors to obtain special and improper consideration for lucrative city contracts. At the very least, it creates real appearance issues that severely erode trust in government. Executive branch departments commonly waive competitive bidding practices, as they have done for contracts involving planning in South Lake Union... "
Our response to the Mayor and Vulcan's charges:
And speaking of misguided - if anything stands in the way of turning this city into a truly world class city it is the failure on the part of our elected leaders to adequately address growing inequality, homelessness, and poverty in our community. The City Council soon will be making key decisions fundamentally affecting the value Mr. Allenís land holdings and development plans in S. Lake Union. Literally several millions dollars worth of city staff time over the last two and half years have been poured into an unprecedented planning effort for South Lake Union. The Mayor's agenda, developed with the active, on-going involvement and even direction by Vulcan calls for over one-half billion dollars in subsidies in the form of massive public infrastructure improvements for South Lake Union - all to serve Paul Allen's properties. While we foot the bill, Paul Allen reaps enormous returns.
To date, the Mayor's attempts to justify this extraordinary allocation of limited city resources have been little more than an elaborate public relations campaign with no genuine attempt to weigh alleged benefits against the very real costs that all of us are bearing to support his South Lake Union Agenda. In the meantime, the City Council and the Mayor move relentlessly forward slashing funding for basic improvements in all our neighborhoods, denying resources especially to low income and minority communities, and cutting dollars for desperately needed human service programs. The gap between rich and poor grows in our City as direct result of neglect of these issues and our city's misplaced priorities. Just who is misguided?
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