An ethics complaint filed yesterday with the state Public Disclosure Commission charges that council candidate Venus Velázquez knew Forward Seattle was going to back her-- that's why she spent down her campaign coffers after the primary. (She was $30,000 in the hole at the end of August.)
Forward Seattle, a new Political Action Committee made up of local business owners and developers, announced yesterday it intends to spend its cash (likely in the form of radio and T.V. ads) on Velázquez's behalf. The PAC has around $100,000 in the bank, but the group's organizers won't say how much they plan to spend, or when. As of the end of August, the last period for which full reports are available, Velázquez's opponent Bruce Harrell had about $12,000 after expenses.
The complaint was filed by local community activist Pat Murakami who lives in Southeast Seattle and has tangled with Velázquez in the past over Casa Latina's bid to relocate from Belltown to Rainier Valley. She says in her complaint that the "unorthodox decision of the Velázquez campaign to take on such a huge debt and therefore preclude significant voter outreach in the General Election could be driven by previous communication with the PAC and the promise that they would direct resources to support her." PAC's can contribute unlimited funds "independently" to candidates, but the catch is that they can't communicate or collaborate with them.
Murakami also alleges that Forward Seattle's intent to support Velázquez was confirmed in early September.
A PDC spokeswoman says they've received the complaint, though she says no one's reviewed it yet.Spoke with Velázquez before Forward Seattle's official announcement, but after word had begun to spread that she was going to get the PAC's cash. She said then that she had no idea what they were planning, but that she would welcome Forward Seattle's support: "If they want to play in this race, sure. I'm seeking support in all communities."
UPDATE: Reached Forward Seattle co-founder Joe Quintana. He confirmed that the group decided to support Velázquez during a meeting Sept. 6, but he says the PAC has had no contact with the candidate: "We haven't seen the complaint so it's difficult to respond, but our skirts are cleaner than clean."