Egan Orion has raked in cash from at least 21 major Republican donors in his campaign against incumbent Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. According to public disclosure records, all of those donors gave the maximum $500 to his campaign, with one giving only $250. Five of those donors have given to Donald Trump, and three of those Trump donors appear to have never or only once played in Seattle city council politics before. Over a dozen of these donors have given only to Orion's campaign in the council races this election cycle.
Six of the Republican donors have also given a combined $90,000 to People for Seattle, a PAC run by former Seattle Interim Mayor Tim Burgess. The PAC is spending thousands on advertising and paid canvassers for Orion and other candidates who are also endorsed by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, which has received $1.5 million from Amazon alone.
“It’s not surprising that rich Republicans see my opponent as their candidate," said Sawant in a statement. "Billionaires and wealthy Republicans want to push the council to the right, and he has shown himself to be their voice, eagerly using Republican talking points."
"A few of our neighbors may be Republicans but the overwhelming majority are progressive liberals like me," said Orion, adding that his campaign returned Selig's contribution back in August. "As an ICE landlord and major Trump supporter, [Selig] doesn’t represent D3 values," Orion said.
But Orion didn't respond to a question about whether or not he has signed "thank-you" notes to his Trump/Republican donors, which one campaign worker tells me is standard practice for those who max out donations to a campaign.
In a follow-up email, Orion said he hasn't "signed a single thank-you note the entire election," but admits automatic "thank-you" emails are delivered to all who donate online, though he claims he's "not part of that process." Orion adds that his campaign didn't directly solicit donations from Republicans, but rather "they were invited by people hosting house parties."
If these Republicans were good at politics, they would be pumping as much money as possible into Sawant's campaign. Republicans have been blaming Sawant for problems in Spokane since she first took office, and now they're just going to let her go? Who will they use to scare away centrists in Kirkland if she loses? Who are they going to use as an excuse not to catch up to California and Oregon on statewide rent control legislation? Oh wait, that's not the Republicans. That's Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle.
But, seriously. Why are Trump donors maxing out to Orion? For the same reason they're donating to Trump. They believe Orion, like Trump, will ultimately support policies that will protect their wealth. And they would like to have some influence on a politician who can regulate or deregulate their industry, which will have a big impact on that wealth.
Is Orion up for sale? He has been quite impressionable so far this campaign season. Early on he told The Stranger he wouldn't accept an endorsement from CASE, but now he welcomes their endorsement. Before he started "talking to people," he was all for safe injection sites. But now he thinks the data isn't clear (it is). He also recently came out against the cap on move-in fees, which prevent landlords from charging more than 10% of one month's rent in nonrefundable fees, arguing that the law might force landlords to raise rents. Low and behold, landlords used that same bullshit reasoning in their opposition to the bill, which was sponsored by Sawant and City Council Member Lisa Herbold.
If District 3 voters send Orion to Seattle City Council, they're sending a pure vessel for corporate interests. That's what these Republican donors are banking on, anyway.