Complaint: Ridesharing Referendum Isn't Revealing Finances
A complainant alleges that the pro-ridesharing referendum campaign isn't disclosing its financial data.
In the latest twist in the ridesharing drama, Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar—three ridesharing companies—are collecting signatures for a referendum to repeal new City Council regulations limiting the number of ridesharing drivers on the road and adding insurance and licensing requirements. And an anonymous complainant with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) is alleging that the pro-ridesharing referendum has failed to follow the law by not filing required financial disclosure forms with the city.
Under city rules, a campaign is required to file notice with the city, known as a C-3 form, on the 10th of every month; campaigns are also required to file notice of any money they've spent before the date they file their initial campaign documents with the city.
The campaign for the ridesharing referendum registered as a political committee with the city on March 25, but has not yet filed any C-3s, implying, according to the complainant, that it hasn't raised any money despite the fact that it has paid signature gatherers in the field and has retained an attorney, Heather Clarke at Davis Wright Tremaine, as its treasurer.
The anonymous complaint, distributed via email, alleges:
The campaign has hired DWT first off, someone had to draft the referendum petition it is circulating; it had to hire Ms. Clarke, she is not doing her treasurer services for free - that is her business, she receives money to do this; Brad Harwood, professional mouthpiece has also been hired by the campaign - he is performing work for it, where did the money come from for that; the petitions had to be printed, hundreds of them are circulating; the petition companies that are circulating the referendum petitions - they started their work several days prior to Ms. Clarke's C1 filing - they have paid travel and room allowances to petitioners; John Michael and company have also already paid petitioners for their first week of work; they have also been paid retainers for their services by this campaign; the campaign also has a paid phone line and a domain and a website - keepseattlerideoptions.com; and, frankly, the campaign cannot have a bank account without having paid money into that account!
Ethics and Elections director Wayne Barnett says he's looking into the quasi-complaint "to find out if there's any there there."
Asked for a response to the complaint, referendum campaign spokesman Harwood said, "There's nothing to respond to. It's a ridiculous claim."
Initiative maven Elizabeth Campbell, who's filed a separate, competing pro-ridesharing measure asking says she is not the mysterious "Sam Hill" behind the complaint to the ethics commission. Campbell's less far-reaching pro-ridesharing proposal would partly rescind the regulations passed by council earlier this month, lifting the cap on drivers but not eliminating the new rules entirely.
Campbell's measure is an initiative—as opposed to the Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar-backed referendum—which would merely amend, rather than abolish, the legislation. Campbell has not filed a C3 either, but that isn't surprising—she has run several campaigns in the past that have not raised any money.