One of Seattle's richest men, billionaire real estate developer Martin Selig, has come out as an enthusiastic backer of the racist cheese puff Donald Trump. As Sydney noted yesterday, Selig is proudly hosting a Trump fundraiser at a still-secret location on August 30.
So who the hell is this guy?
Well, according to Forbes, "It’s impossible to look at Seattle and not see Martin Selig." His physical imprint is all over the city—that's what Forbes is trying to say. As of last year, he'd reached billionaire status and owned an estimated 4 million square feet of office space in Seattle. He built and owned the city's tallest building, the Columbia Tower, then sold it for $354 million.
What has he done with all this money?
- He collects art. Some of his buildings also have public art, like at his newly purchased Federal Reserve Building at Second and Madison avenues. There, out in front, is a bronze statute with a penis that Selig does not want you to touch.
- He donates to Republicans and anti-tax measures. A review of campaign finance records shows he's contributed thousands of dollars to Republicans at the state level, including $25,000 to the State Republican Party in 2008.
- He bankrolled a failed statewide initiative to abolish the estate tax.
- In Seattle, he supported the hare-brained campaign to build a park on the viaduct, until he decided not to.
- And in the last election cycle, he lent his financial muscle to the Chamber of Commerce slate of candidates: Mayor Ed Murray and Council Members Tim Burgess, Lorena González, Sally Bagshaw, Shannon Braddock, and Bruce Harrell.
Selig arrived in Seattle in 1940 with his penniless parents, who escaped Nazi Germany. He did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, including this question I posed:
Your family fled religious persecution. Why do you support a candidate who wants to ban refugees from the United States on the basis of religion?
Could anyone have predicted that Selig, who has lived out the American dream, would today, 76 years after his parents' arrival as immigrants, be supporting an immigrant-bashing xenophobe like Trump?
Well... actually... back in 2004, The Stranger's own Erica C. Barnett wrote a couple articles that now seem like a kind of dark prophecy.
Back then, Selig was bankrolling the anti-monorail campaign and Barnett described him as "the man many refer to, only half-joking, as this city's Donald Trump." She went on to write:
During his time in Seattle, Selig has paid—and owed—millions to various contractors and business partners, some of whom have sued the prolific developer again and again before signing up for yet another business partnership. Since 1980, the developer has been sued dozens of times, often by contractors who alleged he failed to pay them for their services. When I contacted Arnie Willig, the attorney for a construction company that sued Selig for failing to pay for remodeling work on one of Selig's buildings last year, he burst out laughing. "It's funny you should call" about Selig, he said. "I just filed another suit against him." (The earlier lawsuit, for $227,000, ended in settlement; the new lawsuit is for nonpayment on that settlement.)
Barnett also wrote about how Selig had fallen seriously "into arrears" with Seattle City Light for failing to pay electric bills on his properties. Back then, one of his tenants told Barnett, "It's just the way [Selig] operates."