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Complaint against Cascade Bicycle Club dismissed
Posted by Lynn Thompson
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has dismissed a complaint against the Cascade Bicycle Club and the Transportation Choices Coalition saying there is no evidence that the groups have used city money to campaign for the $60 car-tab fee increase on the November ballot.
Wayne Barnett, the commission's executive director, issued his opinion Thursday, concluding that a review of city invoices for services provided by the bicycle club showed that city funds went almost exclusively to Cascade's Education Foundation, a nonprofit that is separate from the club's political action committee.
Similarly, Barnett found that city payments to the Transportation Choices Coalition were also spent on policy and education work.
City law bars the use of public money to influence an election.
Opponents of the $60 car-tab fee earlier this week filed a complaint with the commission, charging that the bicycle and transit advocacy groups were using city money to campaign in support of the ballot measure.
The bicycle club has donated $8,375 in in-kind contributions to Streets for All, the pro-car tab fee campaign. The Cascade BikePAC has contributed $3,000. Transportation Choices has made $1,375 in in-kind contributions and $4,000 in contributions. Its bylaws prohibit public funds from being used for lobbying.
Barnett said invoices showed that the bike club received approximately $220,000 from the Seattle Department of Transportation and that 85 percent went to Cascade's bicycle-education programs. The remaining money was spent in support of SDOT's Commuter Trip Reduction Program and Safe Routes to School program.
Barnett noted that the vast majority of these city payments predates the establishment of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, the entity (made up of City Council members )that placed the vehicle-license fee on the ballot.
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