Seattle Chamber broke campaign finance rules to aid Murray PAC

Seattle Chamber broke campaign finance rules to aid Murray PAC

Credit: KING

With an estimated half of the expected vote counted August 6, 2013, State Senator Ed Murray leads the race for Seattle mayor with 30 percent of the vote followed by incumbent Mike McGinn with 27 percent.

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by RUSS WALKER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 5:22 PM

The political action committee for Seattle's Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has reached a preliminary deal with the city's Ethics Commission over a complaint that it broke election rules to help Ed Murray's mayoral campaign.

Mayor McGinn's campaign filed a complaint last month charging that a pro-Murray PAC worked with the Chamber's PAC -- the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy -- to solicit business community donations. Business money would be given directly to the Chamber's PAC, which in turn would pass it along to the Murray PAC -- effectively disguising the source of the money.

The commission found that neither the Murray campaign or the separate pro-Murray PAC knew about Chamber PAC's activities or tried to disguise the source of campaign funds. But in the draft settlement, the commission says the Chamber's PAC -- Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy -- violated ethics rules when it accepted a check from Vulcan Inc. that came with the explicit direction that the money be sent on to People for Ed Murray.

The settlement also concludes that Vulcan should have been listed as a top donor to the People for Ed Murray PAC.

The Ethics Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to approve the deal, which includes a $1,500 fine, half of which is suspended as long as the PAC doesn't violate the ethics code again between now and 2015.

Vulcan Inc. is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and is the leading developer of the city's South Lake Union district.

Interestingly, the settlement discusses communications between the Chamber PAC and Phillip Fujii at Vulcan. Fujii served as McGinn's deputy mayor for operations during the first months of his administration.

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