Sawant Denies She Failed To Donate The Majority Of Her Salary To Social Justice Orgs But Her Website Says Otherwise
By Connor Nash
*A summary of Councilmember Sawant’s donations is at the end of the article*
On March 4th, Councilmember Sawant launched the Workers Strike Back movement. The rally had many guest speakers; Amazon union organizer Griffen Ritze, independent journalist Nick Cruise, supporters of Seattle’s caste discrimination ban, and members of Socialist Alternative. After the speakers and a donation drive that garnered $41,000 were over, the Councilmember was ready to speak.
The Councilmember was introduced by one of her council aides who touted her boss’ accomplishments. The aide emphatically affirmed that Kshama Sawant only takes $40,000 of her salary and donates the rest of her six-figure income to social justice organizations.
When Councilmember Sawant took the microphone, she gave the same speech she’s given for the past decade. How the Democratic establishment has been sold out to big business, mentioning the failures of AOC and the Squad, and how capitalism is destroying America. Just your everyday Sawant speech.
Once the rally was over, I asked the Councilmember questions in response to her aide’s claim about her salary, and to follow up on my previous article. I said the Socialist Alternative site does not reflect her only taking a salary of $40,000. I asked if she believed she followed through with her campaign promise when she only donated $4,473 to Social Justice Orgs in 2021 (per the Socialist Alternative website).
Councilmember Sawant responded, “That’s not true.”
I asked if she made donations in 2021 and 2022. And why has the Socialist Alternative website not been updated since 2021?
The Councilmember walked away while directing me to speak with a Socialist Alternative member.
A Workers Strike Back volunteer chimed in, “We’ll update it. We make donations all the time.”
Calvin Priest, the Councilmember’s husband, seconded that statement, “Yes, we made donations.” When responding to the Socialist Alternative website not being updated in two years, Priest said, “That doesn’t mean we don’t make donations. And there have been pauses in updating multiple times.”
Councilmember Sawant told Priest they were leaving, ending the impromptu interview.
Although the Councilmember wants to believe my statements are false, the Socialist Alternative website backs me up while contradicting her. Below is a screenshot of the Socialist Alternative website from March 4th, 2023 showing the Councilmember only reported $4,473 in donations for 2021. A “2021 donations are still being updated” message is at the bottom of the page.
Screenshot from Socialist Alternative website
The “pause” on updating the website may show a lack of motivation by the Sawant team to prove she is still following through on her campaign promise. But this lack of financial transparency contradicts the values of the Kshama Solidarity Fund.
“Seattle City Councilmembers received over $117,000 a year – the second largest of any city council in the country. Inevitably, such a salary removed Councilmembers from the realities of life for poor and working people.
“I take home just $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of an average Seattleite. The remainder of my salary goes to a Solidarity Fund to help build social justice movements.
“Towards the end of each calendar year, and more regularly as needed, I will give a full account of my income and how my Solidarity Fund is being used.”
Screenshot from Socialist Alternative site.
The Socialist Alternative site states they would give annual accounts on how the Kshama Solidarity Fund donated funds but failed to meet the last two annual reports. The site also claims that Seattle council members make $117,000 a year, but that was in 2014. Councilmember Sawant made $145,157.04 in 2021, according to Tacoma’s The News Tribune.
The Councilmember’s aide said they will update the Socialist Alternative site with all of the donations Sawant has made. Maybe an update to the site will also include the Councilmember’s current salary and the annual fund amount needed to have a take-home pay of $40,000.
Or maybe the “pause” on financial transparency will continue.
Kshama Solidarity Fund Facts, as of 3/4/2023
The Councilmember’s yearly donation goal is $42,000. The remaining balance rolls over to the following year.
“Sawant-connected orgs” are organizations with a direct financial connection to the Councilmember. Includes donations to 15Now, Socialist Alternative, and Tax Amazon.
|Total amount donated||$35,145|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$29,500|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$5,645|
|Total amount donated||$37,600|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$29,250|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$8,350|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$11,255|
|Total amount donated||$40,675|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$25,325|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$15,350|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$12,580|
|Total amount donated||$31,759|
|Total donated to Sawant- connected orgs||$25,325|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$6,434|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$22,821|
|Total amount donated||$21,424.53|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$18,000|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$3,424.53|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$43,396.47|
|Total amount donated||$38,974.85|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$31,920|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$7,054.85|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$46,421.62|
|Total amount donated||$24,518.30|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$17,200|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$7,318.30|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$63,903.32|
|Total amount donated||$4,473|
|Total donated to Sawant-connected orgs||$0|
|Total donated to non-Sawant orgs||$4,473|
|Remaining balance + roll over||$101,430.32*|
*I wanted to take this opportunity to make a correction to my previous article. As of 2021, the total amount donated by the Kshama Solidarity Fund is $234,569.68. The total amount donated to non-Sawant organizations was $52,733.68. The total yet to be donated as of 2021 is $101,430.32.
– By Connor Nash