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City Hall and the Columbia Tower.

Donald Trump probably couldn’t even be mayor of Seattle. And I don’t mean he couldn’t be mayor because our liberal electorate wouldn’t ever vote for him—though, of course, it wouldn’t. 

No, I mean, legally Trump would likely run afoul of our city’s venerable ethics code. Under the headers “prohibited conduct” and “disqualification from acting on city business,” Seattle rules say the mayor cannot “participate in a matter in which [he] has a financial interest.” A more detailed look at Trump’s financial interests would be required to determine the certainty of disbarring him from holding office here. But, notes Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission executive director Wayne Barnett, Trump’s already known conflicts—his hotel chain in dispute with the National Labor Relations Board, for example, or his future oversight of the DOJ, which is negotiating a $14 billion settlement with one of Trump’s creditors—present extraordinary circumstances likely to raise the kinds of questions “the commission has never faced.” 

“Seattle’s robust code prohibits even the appearance of conflict,” adds city ethics commissioner Brendan Donckers, noting that Trump could be “disqualified from making decisions.” 

Former Seattle ethics commissioner Amit Ranade, who went on to chair the state Public Disclosure Commission, doesn’t mince words: “It is mindboggling how many ways he would violate that code.”

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