The Mark Sidran for Mayor campaign is rolling in the May money.
Sidran for Seattle reported more than $100,000 in donations, riding a successful kickoff event and transferring some $13,000 in contributions from Sidran's dormant city attorney campaign to bring him almost even in the all-important "cash on hand" category with incumbent Paul Schell and County Council member Greg Nickels.
Well, for a couple days at least.
It didn't take long for sharp-eyed political observers to note that while Sidran reported all the donations from his big event at the Downtown Westin Hotel, he'd forgotten to list its cost, a healthy $29,186. After the Sidran campaign filed an amended report, it sank to a distant third in the cash on hand column at $95,727. (Nickels has $131,143 in the bank to Schell's $114,977.)
Curiously enough, the Sidran campaign also listed a total of 22 donors as having kicked in more than the city's $600 limit. While perhaps a view of where Seattle politics might go under Sidran, it ain't happened yet, so his campaign had the pleasure of returning some four grand to various well-heeled donors, including Microsoft millionaire Dick Brass and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chris Bayley.
Sidran campaign spokesperson Ruth LaRoque says that the data entry for the May donations wasn't completed until early June (May disclosure reports are due June 10), so most of the over-limit donations had already been returned. "As we were catching problems, we were issuing the refunds," she says, "but those checks were actually cut in June."
Rivals Schell and Nickels aren't saying much. Neither campaign decided to comment on Sidran's slack record-keeping—probably a wise move, in case either organization stumbles over Seattle's tough reporting rules later in the election season.
Sidran's more outspoken critics, a group of activists now known as the Sidran Truth Squad, are less shy about voicing their opinion. "It's a bit hypocritical, to say the least, that our city's law-and-order candidate is again dancing around our campaign finance laws," says the Truth Squad's John Fox. His organization is also investigating the campaign's failure to report the rent of the Sidran for Seattle headquarters, located in a building owned by Sidran and his wife, Anias Winant. LaRoque says this can be reported as an in-kind donation from the candidate, who can legally contribute an unlimited amount of funds to his own campaign. Yet as this clearly hasn't been done, the Sidran campaign has no choice but to file, file again.