1. If you were waiting for the October surprise in this year’s city council election, Seattle Times reporter Daniel Beekman’s bombshell story this morning may be it.
Screen shots of text messages from a senior vice president at developer firm Triad Capital Partners to Jon Grant supporter, former mayor Mike McGinn, strongly indicated that the Triad VP, Brett Allen, was offering a political quid pro quo: If Grant, the former head of the Tenants’ Union (and now an at-large city council candidate against council president Tim Burgess) would tell his lefty attorney to settle a TU lawsuit against Triad, Allen would help call off an anti-Jon Grant independent expenditure campaign.
The Times quotes the damning texts from Allen to McGinn (McGinn’s urbanist group Great City used to work out of the same office as Triad and Allen was asking McGinn to relay the message to Grant.)
“Hey Mike, it’s Brett. Any luck in getting Grant to a sit down? I realize 100% of his focus is on election — but nothing else he does today could translate into as many votes. Definitely worth an hour of his time…
“Just in case I wasn’t clear yesterday: any deal would be contingent on the 200k IE going away. Please tell him that we’re sincere in our desire to get this resolved before any major damage done. We need him to show leadership. As an alternative, Grant could simply instruct his attorney … to accept our offer on the table (or make a counter offer). Deadline is Monday @ noon — after which certain bad things can’t be undone. Thanks again for your efforts to try to help us both! And Go Hawks!”
The IE campaign (which is planning to put out a message from a low-income veterans advocacy group that Grant’s TU had jeopardized vet housing) hasn’t reported its funders yet, but Grant reportedly told Allen that Triad co-founder, John Goodman, was behind the group. (Goodman told the Times he wasn’t part of the IE. And Allen told the Times Grant was misinterpreting his overture, though it’s hard, reading the straight forward texts, to see how.)
Meanwhile, Grant’s campaign consultant, John Wyble, told the Times that he had a phone call with public affairs consultant and Triad lobbyist (and former deputy mayor) Tim Ceis where the same overture of a quid pro quo was made.
The Times reports:
Ceis suggested Grant call Knoll Lowney, a lawyer representing the [TU] in the lawsuit, if he wanted the independent-expenditure committee to “go away,” according to Wyble.
Ceis told the Times simply “I don’t remember that,” but Wyble tells Fizz: “Ceis is having a very faulty memory about a one sentence conversation.”
While the story doesn’t involve or implicate Grant’s opponent Burgess in any way (though Goodman has contributed $700 to Burgess’s campaign), it does highlight Grant’s central campaign theme that heavy handed developers are running the show at city hall.
This apparently clumsy, and almost trite, political brinkmanship by developers and consultants could easily solidify a stirring populist mood among voters this season and not only help Grant’s chances against incumbent Burgess, but play out in other races too. Lisa Herbold, for example, is running on similar anti-developer themes to Grant. And Michael Maddux, though not running on precisely the same anti-developer jag, is also trying to channel an anti-establishment vibe.
I have messages in to the IE consultant Jason Bennett to ask whether Goodman is or was, in fact, one of the planned funders (it’s unclear why the funders haven’t been reported yet) and whether Ceis, in addition to being a Triad lobbyist, has any connection to the IE.
Goodman, by the way, is the developer who took over the vets housing that’s at the center of the conflict between the vets and Grant in the IE.
2. Speaking of campaign funders: File this under biggest irony of the season. Some of the top donors to I-122, the campaign finance reform initiative that's trying to combat the influence of veiled and excessive corporate donations in the wake of today's post Citizens United shell game, aren't very transparent themselves.
The generically named Every Voice is the top contributor to the "Honest Elections" campaign; they've donated $211,000. Every Voice, a D.C. non-profit advocating for campaign finance reform, is not listed at the state's Public Disclosure Commission, though their own website does provide a list of foundations and big donors who support them. It's a helpful list (it appears to be mostly liberal foundations, though there is one "anonymous.")
Also on I-122's list of big contributors: Win/Win Action at $62,000 (again, a liberal group, but with no list of donors at the Public Disclosure Commission.) Another top donor to I-122 is Represent.Us from Massachusetts. They've contributed $27,500, but there is no record of who they actually are at the Public Disclosure Commission.
The local lefty group Fuse has also donated to I-122. It is possible to track down Fuse's donors at the PDC.