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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 1 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 44
Murray campaign cleared of alleged ethics violation - No evidence found to support McGinn's charge of collusion with donors
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Murray campaign cleared of alleged ethics violation - No evidence found to support McGinn's charge of collusion with donors

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle's Ethics and Elections Commission has found that Sen. Ed Murray's mayoral campaign is not guilty of ethics violations alleged by his opponent. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce's CASE PAC was fined $1,500 for concealing the source of contributions, however.

According to a document released by Ethics and Elections, 'there is no evidence that People for Ed Murray or Ed Murray for Mayor [the official campaign] had knowledge of the communications between Vulcan [Inc.] and CASE, or sought in any way to conceal the source of any contribution made to People for Ed Murray or Ed Murray for Mayor.'

Murray's rival, incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, filed the complaint in September. McGinn's campaign complained that two local developers, Vulcan Inc. and Richard Hedreen, colluded with CASE and People for Ed Murray to hide the fact they were giving money to Murray's campaign.

People for Ed Murray is an independent expenditure campaign, and as such may not coordinate with the candidate's official campaign, Ed Murray for Mayor.

CASE ADMITS IMPROPRIETY
In a settlement announced October 30, CASE admitted it had conversations with Vulcan, agreed to pay the fine, and promised not to offend again.

Curiously enough, the Vulcan principal who handled the transaction with CASE was Phil Fujii, who served as McGinn's deputy mayor for three months before abruptly resigning in 2010.

According to the settlement document, Fujii asked CASE director George Allen to earmark Vulcan's $15,000 contribution for Murray's primary campaign. In a July 24 e-mail to People for Ed Murray fundraiser Rachel Padgett, the document continues, Allen wrote that a 'hefty check is coming in today/tomorrow that will ensure the buffer we need for our next contribution to you for $15K.'

CASE received the $15,000 check from Vulcan on July 24 or 25, and CASE contributed $17,500 to People for Ed Murray on August 2.

The Ethics and Elections Commission ruled that CASE was at fault for concealing the donation from Vulcan and for concealing the fact it was earmarked for Murray's campaign. Neither Vulcan, nor People for Ed Murray, nor the official Murray campaign organization were found to be at fault.

'BASELESS' ALLEGATIONS
Dean Nielsen, a spokesman for People for Ed Murray, said the McGinn campaign's allegation of collusion with the donors and CASE was 'absolutely baseless.'

'CASE made a contribution to People for Ed Murray and we accepted it. There was nothing nefarious about it. There's nothing to it,' Nielsen said. 'It's just like a labor union making a contribution to a political committee, which happens all the time.'

In a statement, McGinn consultant John Wyble demanded an apology from the Murray campaign, which is separate from People for Ed Murray.

Murray campaign spokesperson Sandeep Kaushik told SGN that the campaign had no comment on the ruling 'other than to say that Seattle Ethics' draft finding makes it clear this is an issue between CASE and one of their donors, and that the Murray for Mayor campaign was neither aware of or involved in the communications in question.'

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