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Sawant subject of at least 4 ethics complaints

Kshama Sawant KOMO podium 30.jpg

SEATTLE -- Earlier this week the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission received the first of at least four complaints from the public about Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant's alleged use of taxpayer-funded resources to promote a political agenda.

Some of those complaints cite an exchange between Sawant and Councilmember Sally Bagshaw during a council briefing on May 14.

"On multiple occasions, I’ve seen your staff using our copiers to print your signs," Bagshaw said during the briefing. "I just don’t think it is right for us to be using city resources or the copy machines to promote something that not all of us agree to."

But at that same briefing, Sawant defended her actions, saying "you can choose not to use your office for really fighting for the interests of working people and to build movements. I strongly believe that council resources should absolutely be used to build social movements and not for furthering the interests of the Chamber of Commerce."

Sawant has not responded to a request to comment about the ethics complaints.

But Wayne Barnett, chairman of the SEEC, says Sawant is not under investigation. He tells KOMO the complaints are so new that he hasn't even had a chance to conduct a preliminary review.

In an email, Barnett says if a preliminary review finds reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the ethics commission then move on to what he calls "enforcement mode."

Complicating the matter is that the SEEC staffer who would investigate the complaints is out of town until next Wednesday, potentially delaying any investigation.

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