Seattle to cover mayor’s legal costs from fighting recall

December 15, 2020 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle will cover the legal costs Mayor Jenny Durkan incurred while fighting a recall petition the state Supreme Court rejected.

The City Council voted 9-0 Monday to pay Durkan’s expenses, estimated to be $240,000, The Seattle Times reported.

Recall petitioners earlier this year contended the mayor had violated an oath of office requiring her to maintain peace and order when police were allowed to endanger the public with tear gas and other weapons during protests against police brutality and racism.

The case cleared initial hurdles in King County Superior Court but was rebuffed by the state Supreme Court, which described the allegations as “deeply troubling” but concluded they were insufficient for recall.

Had the petition been approved by the court and the petitioners collected more than 50,000 signatures, a special election would have been held to allow voters to retain or remove Durkan from office.

A Durkan spokesperson last week said the mayor believes the recall process “was a terrible use of taxpayer dollars.”

State law directs cities to cover legal expenses for elected officials who face recall petitions for actions taken while performing “or in good faith purporting to perform” their official duties.

In September, the council voted 7-1 to fund Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s legal expenses in her recall case, which is still active.