On Thursday, Seattle resident Ernest Lou made his case again for the recall effort, which he based on four specific charges relating to how Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. allegedly abused her office. Specifically, Lou alleges that Sawant let protesters into City Hall during a nighttime protest and spoke at another demonstration in front of the Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan's house.
The issue is currently headed to the Washington Supreme Court in January after an appeal from Sawant, a socialist.
Sawant's legal team argued that the charges were "factually and legally insufficient." According to Seattle P-I, attorney Dmitri Iglitzin accused Lou of engaging in a politicized attack. "You can't convert political disagreement into a recall," Iglitzin said. In September, Seattle's city council voted to pay legal fees for Sawant, whose private lawyers reportedly cost $75,000.
Sawant won a partial victory in September when King County Superior Judge Jim Rogers rejected some of the charges against her. However, Rogers kept four charges, saying that "the petitioner has shown actual knowledge of facts indicating that the councilmember intended to commit an unlawful act."
She's also encountered criticism from Durkan, who faced a recall that was rejected by the state's Supreme Court in October.
"All of us have joined hundreds of demonstrations across the City, but Councilmember Sawant and her followers chose to do so with reckless disregard of the safety of my family and children," Durkan said in a letter to the city council president this summer. "In addition, during or after Councilmember Sawant’s speech at that rally, her followers vandalized my home by spray-painting obscenities."
Sawant, meanwhile, has suggested that Durkan is part of the corporate elite, referring to her as "Amazon's mayor" in a Nov. 11 op-ed for the socialist outlet Jacobin.
Touting a series of victories, including an "Amazon" tax levy to support a Green New Deal, Sawant argued that "victories like these are why the ruling class wants a do-over."
She added that since "they have failed in all their efforts to force my office to back down, pro-capitalist politicians have fought relentlessly to block or co-opt social movements — and, if all else failed, to claim credit for their victories. This is to discourage working people from getting organized."
Besides her conduct during protests, Sawant has caught attention for her stances on major policy issues. She belongs to the "Socialist Alternative" party, which has portrayed itself as more strident than the socialist organization -- Democratic Socialists of America DSA -- that backed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Seattle Ethics Commission filings show that Sawant's Kshama Solidarity Campaign received at least one out-of-state donation an employee of the Socialist Alternative. That, along with other out-of-district donations earned Sawant criticism, from her opponent Egan Orion and conservative radio host Jason Rantz.
As Rantz noted, Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission filings showed Sawant received more than a dozen out-of-state donations of $1,000. Others came from outside of her district.