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Friday, September 28, 2007

Rumor: Business PAC Will Spend Tens of Thousands to Promote Velazquez

posted by on September 28 at 18:15 PM

Rumor is that Forward Seattle, a PAC that formed earlier this year to advocate for lower taxes and an improved climate for business in Seattle, plans to pour most or all of its substantial war chest (currently more than $100,000) into the campaign of City Council candidate Venus Velazquez. The group formed after the mayor’s transportation tax package passed last year.

Public-affairs consultant Don Stark, who co-founded Forward Seattle with another consultant, Joe Quintana, wouldn’t say what the group’s plans were for its money. He suggested calling Quintana, adding, “but I doubt he’ll tell you either.” (I left a message for Quintana). However, given that the Velazquez-Harrell race is pretty much the only game in town this year (all the incumbents running for reelection are expected to win), a big expenditure on Velazquez’s behalf seems almost certain. That’s got to be good news to Velazquez, who was $30,000 in the red at the end of August, the last time campaigns were required to report their financial info.

There’s another reason to suspect Forward Seattle is about to bail out the Velazquez campaign: Both she and her consultant, Moxie Media’s Lisa MacLean, both say they haven’t heard from any of Forward Seattle’s members in weeks. Election rules stipulate that PACs can make unlimited expenditures to promote or pan a candidate or cause, as long as they don’t do so in collusion or collaboration with the candidate.(If they do, they’re limited to the $700 contribution cap that applies to other contributors). In other words, it would be illegal for Forward Seattle to talk to Velazquez about their plans. “I don’t know what they’re doing; they haven’t talked to me, and they’re not telling me anything,” Velazquez says. “All of a sudden Joe Quintana won’t return my calls. Is that a sign they’re going to do something? Maybe.” MacLean laughed when I asked if she knew what Forward Seattle had planned, saying bluntly: “No. That would be illegal.” PACs are relatively uncommon at the city level; a staffer for the Ethics and Elections Commission said that the only two she could remember were Sidran Truth Squad, which opposed Mark Sidran; and BRIBE, the Stranger’s anti-Jean Godden PAC. (Hey, we were young.)

Harrell says he suspects Velazquez and Forward Seattle have communicated, noting that many of Forward Seattle’s contributors —Stark, Clise Properties, Mark Barbieri—also contributed to Velazquez. Harrell says the group’s support for his opponent shows who the real corporate candidate is. And Forward Seattle’s list of contributors—who also include Martin Selig, Vulcan, and two builders’ PACs—does read like a who’s-who of the local business establishment. “Yes, I have a business background, but they can’t buy me, and that’s why they’re launching this” campaign, Harrell says. (Harrell is a lawyer; Velazquez is a public-affairs consultant.) “The voters need to know if she has completely sold her soul.” Velazquez doesn’t shy away from her pro-business reputation (and Harrell was endorsed by the Alki Foundation, the Seattle Chamber’s political arm); she says if Forward Seattle does want to throw money her way, she’ll gladly take it. “They want to spend money in a Seattle race,” Velazquez says. “If you find out what they’re planning to do with it, let me know.”

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Here's why I always want my time back after I wade through some 500 words of horse race inside politics crap like that:

Not one word about what policies are behind Forward Seattle's opposition to Harrell, or what policy Velazquez stands for that pleases the business group so much.

Yeah, I know, you assume everybody is already aware of that stuff. And the reason you assume it is that you spend too much time at the same parties as the people you are reporting on.

Posted by elenchos | September 28, 2007 6:05 PM

Forward Seattle is not just a business PAC, they are a right-wing PAC. If they put up $30,000 grand to support the "progressive" Velazquez, people should take notice.

Posted by xiu xiu | September 28, 2007 8:41 PM

Interesting that they are deciding to support Velazquez. I had fully expected Forward Seattle would have been gearing up to help Della because the two leaders of Forward Seattle, Joe Quintana and Donald Stark, had both personally endorsed him.

Posted by Alcina | September 28, 2007 9:20 PM

This powerful group wants to go with the winner (any suprise there?). Let's not forget, Venus took 43 percent in the primary! They don't care who it is, or what they stand for, or what their positions are on "silly things" like the environment, the homeless, neighborhoods,etc.

All they want is access.

Co-option? Venus is wise to that. She has integrity. That's why I endorsed her.


Posted by peter steinbrueck | September 28, 2007 9:21 PM

Harrell started out as the business candidate and in fact has worn his Alki Foundation endorsement as a badge of honor. So it's no surprise that now that his own community has spurned him, he's launching a mean-spirited campaign against Velazquez. What I want to know is how, exactly, has a social worker and neighborhood planner gained the support of Forward Seattle over a corporate lawyer? It would seem that Harrell is so incompetent that even his own people can't support him.

Posted by APIgrrl | September 28, 2007 10:24 PM

Venus can be bought because she wants power, and needs a job. They know they can't buy him and tell him how to vote. She is a classic opportunist - she lectures on how to manipulate the beliefs of others for heaven's sake! It's like electing a used car salesman. Her supporters are being fooled--open your damn eyes because they’re completely shut right now.

Posted by Dave | September 29, 2007 12:26 AM

@4-All they want is access; thanks for letting us know that it costs 30 grand to get access to Venus

Speaking of incompetence, I believe Venus is the only candidate who has put her campaign in debt. If she can do that to a political campaign, just image what she can do to the city budget.

Posted by Kerrie | September 29, 2007 12:46 AM

peter steinbruck weighing in on this? venus is way in debt and bruce says theres a rat here. burce is a straight-up gyu--right mostly. somethings wrong with this picutre.

Posted by Richard 22 | September 29, 2007 12:57 AM

Alkai is not Forward Seattle which is controlled by a couple of guys who want power and have used their connections to creat this fund. They bought Venus. She's given in to the developers and the night-club owners. They want someone who they can control and that is Venus. She'll sell her soul and lie and tell voters to vote on racial lines like she did here to win.

Word about this will get out and the collusion will be clear. Remember--Venus has no ethics.

Posted by Jennifer | September 29, 2007 1:13 AM

Here's the real Venus. Certainly not the goddess of love.

Posted by Jennifer | September 29, 2007 1:16 AM

elenchos you are confusing a gossip columnist with a reporter.

Posted by whatever | September 29, 2007 7:23 AM

no one gives this much money for free-- not a nice venus on that video either- somethings not wright. this stinks. ill vote harrell

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 7:57 AM

To be progressive, it's necessary for Backward Seattle to have more presence. I've been trying to get the word out.

Posted by elswingere | September 29, 2007 8:35 AM

These posts smell fishy of campaign people writing for their candidate. I just thought I would point out that no PAC, not even this Forward Seattle, can give Venus 30k – that’s illegal. If they spend money on her campaign, they have to do it on their own (that’s why it’s called “independent expenditures”). This means Velazquez still has to get her campaign out of debt on her own. And almost all campaigns are in debt until the end (thus the ubiquitous “reduce the debt” fundraisers after the election).

Just thought the facts might help.

Posted by Liz | September 29, 2007 10:20 AM

I'm a daily Slog reader but I'm starting to get a little worried. Stranger readers should be smarter than Stefan Sharkansky voters, who seem to be invading the Slog. The YouTube video has Bruce Harrell and camp's manipulative fingerprints all over it. The Hate Free Zone was sponsored by immigrant and refugee groups and it's worth watching the whole thing to put all this in context. Link below. Be sure not to miss it when Harrell reveals he doesn't believe in police accountability.

Posted by Durnbull | September 29, 2007 10:55 AM

Liz, ECB made it clear that the money couldn't be given to Venus. Most campaigns are not underwater by the amount hers is, a couple grand maybe.

She has Colby raising money bad sign she isn't doing better - why did she spend so much in a done deal primary? Maybe she knew she was getting "independent support"

If there is a reporter out there, could you find out why some c-4's end 8-31 and others 8-13?

Stark was part of the ST 1996 campaign and his pr company and Sims have been tight. But who is this Joe guy?

Posted by whatever | September 29, 2007 11:35 AM

venus's words are scary. the new link is boring. harrell didn't make her say that. i pobably took a bum steer when voted for her b4. if she takes that pac money i won't vote for her again. harrell seems more honest. peter steinbruck is too envolved in this. somethings fishy with venus.

Posted by Richard22 | September 29, 2007 11:49 AM

I've been in the audience during venus' "liberal" pitch to activists, enviros, labor. Either she lies to us or to big developers. I don't trust that.

Posted by Jay | September 29, 2007 12:01 PM

right on whatever. she probably kenw shed get more money if she went 30k in the hole. somebody should check this out. close ties with the joe guy venus and colby person? joe bougt venus via colby? weird. scary. illegal. interesting.

Posted by Richard22 | September 29, 2007 12:02 PM

The fact that Forward Seattle is full of developers and others who want to do to the rest of Seattle what they've done to South Lake Union. Forward Seattle is looking for a new S.L.U.T., and guess who they've found?? It sure isn't Bruce Harrell.

Back in July, Venus Velazques, at a forum held a Yesler Terrace, got a huge ovation when she said, "We need to take a growth time out. A big time out. No more development." Of course it SOUNDED great to the audience, most of whom are on some sort of government program (including all the social workers doing great work for these folks). What the audience did not know is that the week before, developer Gregory Broderick Smith held a fundraiser at his nice-sounding firm "Urban Visions" with a bunch of other developers. These people raised more than $11,000 for Venus Velazques. One had to wonder, when Venus was giving her high-minded speech about a "growth time out", whether she had any potential for honesty? Whatsoever? NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

So, about that SLUT...Forward Seattle is a pimp looking to fill a stable with, uh, people willing to sell them selves for a few bucks. What is it we call these people? Here in Seattle, the name is "Venus".

There are 5 weeks until the election. Sloggers, you have 5 weeks to tell the world that what we really want isn't another elected official "laying down" for more phallic symbol skyscrapers; what we need are Moral, Authentic, Real Seattlites.

In other words, reject Venus. Go for MARS.

Posted by Nota Dime | September 29, 2007 12:11 PM

The Alki Foundation recommendation was too early in the process before people understood what a bag of wind Harrell is. All show, no go. Lacks substance. Not that smart. Forward Seattle (conservative business people yes, right-wing - no way) waited to pick a horse until they knew more about the candidates.

Smart for Venus to spend all in a tight primary... I don't think her win was a done-deal at all. I still meet smart people who don't know much about the candidates who think Bruce "presents well". That big win has paid off with support from individuals and groups who now believe she can and will win the general.

Posted by watcher | September 29, 2007 12:11 PM

It's a sensible decision by the business crowd. Venus had an impressive lead over Harrell in the primary and is the odds-on favorite to win. Harrell and Velasquez are both from the squishy Seattle liberal school and there isn't much difference between them politically, so just pick the leader and get a friend on Council.

Posted by J.R. | September 29, 2007 12:13 PM

somebodys lying--venus is way behind him in fundraising and endorsements--the losers support bruce so hes ahead overall--my moneys there. venus switches up for the crowd her youtube videos scary racist. the joe colby venus stark things interesting. no one givs this much money for free--something isnt right. the truth will come out though& itll be a goood story

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 12:28 PM

MAHMUDIYA, Iraq — On bases big and small south of Baghdad, the scrambled reality of war has become routine: an unending loop of anxious driving in armored Humvees, gallons of Gatorade, laughter at the absurd and 4 a.m. raids into intimate Iraqi bedrooms.

This is Iraq for the 3,300 soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division’s Second Brigade, and many have bitterly come to the realization that it now feels more like home than home will.

No other brigade in the Army has spent more days deployed since Sept. 11, 2001. And with only a few weeks to go before ending their 15-month tour, the soldiers here are eager to go. But they are also nervous about what their minds will carry back given the psychic toll of war day after day and the prospect of additional tours.

Heartache can be heard in the quiet voice of Specialist Gerald Barranco-Oro, who at 22 is on his second tour of Iraq and will leave for home without two close friends who were killed May 19.

There are other losses, too: for fathers like Staff Sgt. Kirk Ray, 25, whose 2-year-old daughter screams when he calls because “she doesn’t know who I am”; and for those who must detach to keep going, like Specialist Jesse Herb, 20, who casually mentioned recently that the ceiling above his bed was dented with the bone fragments of a lieutenant who shot and killed himself there a few months ago.

“Every day I wake up,” he said, “I see little pieces of his head.”

Posted by Mack the knife | September 29, 2007 12:41 PM

I read Slog regulary. I am Mexican-American. I'm glad Venus is running but not against Bruce. Bruce is brillant. He was won awards for his brain. He's an honest man, good lawyer and great football player.

Venus is outspoken and hardworking. She seems to really want this office and she fights for Latinos.

I voted for Venus but probably won't again. I hate the YouTube video (because it hurts Lations in the long-run) and that she might take this money because its tainted. I'd like to see her Developer statement--maybe its on video? I hope someone posts it.

If this money is clean Venus will have to prove it. Odds are the Colby, Joe, Stark group will be on the table with her. I wonder why she can't raise money like everyone else?

She may be too Latino oriented for her or our good.

Posted by Rodrigo Sanchez | September 29, 2007 12:57 PM

This PAC-gate scandal will taint them all. Venus, Colby, Stark and the Joe guy. Forward Seattle will be dead on the vine.

It will be interesting to see the phone, e-mail, meeting records and text-mail records that will emerge if this issue becomes a lawsuit.

I'll keep my money betting on Bruce for being right. We all deserve to know the truth and I can't wait to find out here if they actually do give her the money.

Looks like a fine mess is emerging. This money will probably cost her the election for the bad press it will generate.

Posted by Jennifer | September 29, 2007 1:32 PM

This comment thread is kinda scary, frankly. I can see why sensible people would prefer Bruce to Venus (or vice versa) but there's more than a little latent misogyny in some of the anti-Venus posts here. Nota Dime, what's with all the SLUT and pimp talk? Can't you argue against Venus without this shit?

Posted by ben | September 29, 2007 1:58 PM

It's fascinating watching the amateur way in which the Bruce Harrell team keep posting the same message over and over again in here, trying to create controversy where none exists. You can just about put together the bullet-points they are working from.

To wit...

Something fishy.
This Joe Guy
This Colby Guy
No one gives money for free

It's just funny. :-)

Posted by Timothy | September 29, 2007 1:59 PM


I have to agree.

It seems like every time a city council candidate is mentioned on the slog, all of a sudden these names I've never seen before come out of the woodwork, and they all seem to have all this dirt to share. It's kind of implausible that these people just lurk on the slog day after day with nothing to say, and then one day they become passionately verbose about a city council race.

The Slog needs to clean house. Although it is kind of funny to read a bunch of hacks bellowing scripted talking points and opposition research back and forth with nobody but the other candidate's hacks to read it.

Posted by elenchos | September 29, 2007 2:12 PM

To wit...

Something fishy.
This Joe Guy
This Colby Guy
No one gives money for free

Pac-gate talking points. don't forget to put: this venus candidate
this Stark person

glad you think its funny.

i can't wait for it to unfold.

i've never met either of them and don't need to--something is rotten--probaly with venus since shes in so far in debt. i'm betting harrell is right. LOL

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 2:47 PM

To wit...

Something fishy.
This Joe Guy
This Colby Guy
No one gives money for free

Pac-gate talking points. don't forget to put: this venus candidate
this Stark person

glad you think its funny.

i can't wait for it to unfold.

i've never met either of them and don't need to--something is rotten--probaly with venus since shes in so far in debt. i'm betting harrell is right. LOL

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 2:47 PM

To wit...

Something fishy.
This Joe Guy
This Colby Guy
No one gives money for free

Pac-gate talking points. don't forget to put: this venus candidate
this Stark person

glad you think its funny.

i can't wait for it to unfold.

i've never met either of them and don't need to--something is rotten--probaly with venus since shes in so far in debt. i'm betting harrell is right. LOL

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 2:47 PM

Venus is a great, energetic, smart liberal. We need her energy on the Council right now. I think she has the gusto to stand up to the Mayor, Harrell won't.

We can already see this on issues like the Mayor's nightlife license. Harrell sided with Nickels on it. Venus is against it. This is Steinbreuck's seat. He has been a strong block to some of Nickels' nuttier ideas, and we need to make sure to replace him with someone who will also stand up to him. Especially on issues like nightlife.

If you want more of Nickels being represented on Council vote Harrell.

If you are progressive, want someone to stand up to Nickels, like nightlife and music, vote Venus.

Posted by meinert | September 29, 2007 3:47 PM

i cant imagine harrell being afraid of anyone or anything least of all the mayor.

the question is tainted money from forward seattle and honesty and integrity. i dont fully agree with either of them but i can smell something bad on pac-gate. the pac people will let this pass if theyre smart. shell bring them all down.

i voted for her b4 so i liked what i saw now i have real doubt after seeing her video and hearing this.

Posted by Richard22 | September 29, 2007 4:55 PM

I was undecided, but I'm now leaning more towards Venus. The way the Harrell people have their karl-rove-styled-panties in a bunch in response to ECB's "RUMOR story" is disgusting.

Posted by whatever | September 29, 2007 5:32 PM

I don't know if all the pro Harrell posts are actually Harrell himself posting under different names or just some intern working in his firm, but your flimsy attempts to label Venus as some secret conservative racist are pathetic and make Bruce look bad. If Harrell is so desperate that you/he have to go around with using fake personas on the web to bash Venus with lies, then you should just give up now. Harrell is obviously jealous that a grassroots campaign like Venus's can get a pro-business endorsement over him. Venus creamed him in the primary, and is running a better campaign.

Venus is not only the true and only progressive in this race, but she understands how to be progressive and pro-business at the same time, the exact sort of councilperson we need.

And what up with Harrell not wanting more police accountability? He wants a nightlife license but no oversight of the SPD. That's crazy shit.

Harrell on Police oversight - "[Police oversight] shouldn't be a priority for the city council. "

Harrell is a Republican light, endorsed by right wing political hack Stefan Sharkansky as well as other former Republican electeds. But enough with the name calling, judge either on their positions and potential effectiveness. Venus wins at both.

Posted by Meinert | September 29, 2007 5:41 PM

wow you venus people are mean angry and should be scared.

To wit...

Something fishy.
This Joe Guy
This Colby Guy
No one gives money for free
This Venus candidate
This Stark person
Pac-gate talking points

To wit...

The voters will decide.

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 6:03 PM

Sansu, etc,

why not discuss Bruce's positions? Scary to support the positions of a flip-flopping Repub-light on a left leaning blog ain't it?

Posted by Meinert | September 29, 2007 6:18 PM

This is a real voter - not linked to any campaign or CAUSE (Music Industry)

I thought I was going to vote for Venus, but as the campaign moves along she has all but lost me.

She is abrasive and strident to a fault. She reminds me of an angry Charlie Chong. She will be isolated and alone on the council if she doesn't learn consensus. Takes five vote as they say.

She lives in a very fine, expensive, house in a very fine neighborhood. I live in a shack in old time South Seattle, all the minority stuff is just rattling, after all Harrell is half Japanese - so it is Asian vs. Hispanic day? Stupid card to play in this era and this race.

I have heard no ringing policy speech from her - and have seen her at all the three forums I have attended.

Why do they not talk real policy?

Harrell seems VERY grounded and level. Small time attorney office, he has lots of class and composure.

A voter about to switch, Kerrie

Posted by Kerrie Brown-Simpson | September 29, 2007 6:41 PM

i don't know harrell or his positions. i just call this pac-gate stuff as i see it. its going to be a real circus and i'm looking forward to the show. also don't like venus' video. you sound paranoid.

Posted by sansu | September 29, 2007 6:44 PM


You should meet Venus in person, very nice, personable and seems to understand consensus needs to be built on council. She's smart enough to figure it out for sure.

I don't think Harrell is a bad dude. Grounded though, doesn't seem like it. Definitely not solid or consistent in his positions on important issues. Check out

Posted by Meinert | September 29, 2007 6:56 PM

I can smell a rat just like I can smell bad politics. Meinert is probably Venus herself. Posting pre-primary articles is not right so I went to Harrell's site and pulled this about Venus. According to Venus looks unethical.

Posted by Richard22 | September 29, 2007 7:25 PM

Shouldn't have supported her. Told you fuckers. Now it's down to her and Moneybags Harrell. It's like choosing between two pieces of shit.

Posted by Gomez | September 29, 2007 11:53 PM

They may both be shitbags but Venus-Meinert is throwing red-herrings at us by saying Harrell is republican. I looked at her site and his and hes got more and better Democratic enorsers than her by far.

I also checked out the hack Stefan Sharkansky Venus-Meinert referred to and he did not endorse Bruce but agreed with most everyone else that Venus' video is awful--playing the race card at its worst. heres the link i found when i searched

Looks like Pac-gate is jsut more bad news from her and not surprisng that she'd cheat. This money will cost her the election for the bad press it will generate and she will deserve it for cheating to win. I hope:
This Joe Guy
This Colby Guy
This Venus candidate
This Stark person

get creamed. We need some light shed on their bad behavior.

Posted by Jennifer | September 30, 2007 12:57 AM

i've known venus a long time. we were in leaderhip tomorrow together and we know lots of the same people. she was on the lt cirricullum committee known as a hard worker but difficult to work with--a pain in the ass bombthrower type. shes self-absorbed and latino centric. very clear she's promoting her latina agenada so the video is jsut more of that. she'll play dirty too because shes paranoid and likes to win.

i don't know harrell himself but have seen him. his wife is a rock star. best thing about him is her. venus's husband is a nice guy too bad he has such a shrew for a wife. feels good to say this since i see venus all the time and hope shell lose since shes such an arrogant -itch.

Posted by Pings | September 30, 2007 12:02 PM

Pings - you told me what I needed to hear. Venus should stay in the private sector - and/or live off of rich hubby's money.

I thought she might be abrasive to a fault.

Harrell is at the top of my list. Bye bye Venus.

Your future is as contract consultant to hubby's clients, very lucrative.

Posted by Kerrie Brown-Simpson | September 30, 2007 5:54 PM

Aw kids, get a grip. Pac-gate? Independent expenditures are legal in Seattle City Council races. The Joe guy is Joe Quintana, a longtime politico. The Colby guy is Colby Underwood, the most prominent Democratic fundraiser in town and the darling of the Stranger, no less. This Stark person is Don Stark of the fading, but still billing establishment public affairs firm Gogerty Stark and Marriott. If this phony non-scandal is the best Harrell can come up with, then change "this Venus candidate" to "our next City Councilmember."

Posted by J.R. | October 1, 2007 9:48 AM

The Weekly has a solid article on this.

Harrell was endorsed by both the Seattle Times and the Seattle PI today. Now we need to know the real story behind Venus getting this money.

She's corrupt and will do anything to win. The voters will have the last word and for ethics and integrity it has to be Harrell.

Posted by Richard22 | October 7, 2007 3:15 PM

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