Photo by Jericho, via Wikimedia Commons.

What Will Happen to Murray’s War Chest Now That He’s Out of the Race?

The mayor can’t just transfer his $200,000 in campaign contributions to another candidate.

Rumors turned into reality Tuesday morning when Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that, in light of the allegations of sexual abuse that were leveled against him last month, he will not be seeking re-election.

Now that the question of the mayor’s electoral fate has been answered, another emerges: What happens to the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has already raised in campaign contributions? As we’ve previously reported, Murray’s campaign war chest is huge in comparison to the remaining candidates. That $200,000 has to go somewhere.

Where depends on when Murray disposes of the money. The key date is August 1, which is when the primary election will take place. There are only two things that Murray can do with the money before the end of the primary: spend it on campaigning or return it to donors. This rule applies even though Murray will not be filing a Declaration of Candidacy with King County to get onto the August ballot, since he is already registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. Returning the donations could change the complexion of the race dramatically, since those who have supported the mayor financially would then have more resources to back another candidate.

If Murray decides to keep his war chest closed until after the primary, the money will officially become “surplus funds”—as it does for all candidates when they exit their race—and the mayor’s menu of options for how to dispose of the funds would become much bigger. In addition to paying debts and reimbursing contributors, candidates can donate surplus funds to:

  • A state-registered charity
  • The state’s general fund
  • A political party
  • A caucus in the state legislature
  • Themselves, in the form of reimbursed lost wages

One thing a candidate with surplus funds cannot do is contribute them to another candidate. This means that Murray cannot bequeath his war chest to a chosen heir.

A candidate may contribute surplus funds to a political party, which may then contribute the funds to another candidate—though the original contribution to the party cannot be earmarked for that purpose. Also, like any other political donor in Seattle, the party would only be able to contribute up to $500 to another candidate. The Washington State Democrats, for example, contributed that amount to Murray’s campaign in March.

There is also little chance that Murray will attempt to pocket the cash as wage reimbursement, since he has continued his work as mayor throughout the campaign and, as he stated during his Tuesday press conference, will continue until his term ends on December 31.

We asked mayoral spokesperson Jeff Reading what Murray plans to do with his money prior to his announcement. “We’re not commenting on speculation or rumors,” Reading replied.

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com

This post has been edited.

More in News & Comment

Protestors gather at SeaTac’s Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Alex Garland
Seattle’s Separated Children

A local non-profit houses several immigrant youths who were separated from their parents at the border. But for how long?

Katrina Johnson, Charleena Lyles’ cousin, speaks at a press conference for De-Escalate Washington’s I-940 on July 6, 2017. Photo by Sara Bernard
Communities of Color Respond to Police Chief Best’s Nomination

Although its a mixed bag for some, the families affected by police shootings say she’s the best one for the job.

While King County Metro has been testing out several trial electric buses since since 2016, the agency aims to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2040. Photo by SounderBruce/Flickr
King County Rolls on With Its Electric Bus Fleet Plans

With an overhaul set by 2040, a new report shows the economic and health benefits of going electric.

Nikkita Oliver speaks at a July 17 No New Youth Jail press conference in front of the construction site of the King County Youth Detention Center. Photo by Josh Kelety
King County Youth Detention Center Moves Forward Despite Opposition

As community criticism of the project mounts, King County tries to take a middle road.

Trouble in Tacoma

A cannabis producer has been shut down for “numerous and substantial violations.”

Between Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and the new no-poach cause agreement, Washington has been leading the nation in advancing fast food workers’ rights. Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr
Washington AG’s Deal Grants Mobility to Fast Food Workers Nationwide

Seven fast food chains have agreed to end no-poaching policies that economists say cause wage stagnation.

The Carlton Complex wildfire burned in north-central Washington state in 2014. Photo by Jason Kriess/Wikimedia Commons
King County Burn Ban Starts This Weekend

Other counties across the state have already enacted similar restrictions.

Numerous complaints against King County Sheriff’s deputies for issues like excessive force and improper search and seizure weren’t investigated due to internal misclassification, a new report says. Photo by Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
Report Finds Complaints Against King County Sheriff’s Deputies Weren’t Investigated

An outside review says that allegations of excessive force and racially-biased policing weren’t pursued.

Most Read