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March 15, 2011 at 2:49 PM

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Tunnel campaign dos and don'ts: Part 2

Posted by Lynn Thompson

Along with saying the viaduct should close in 2012, Mayor Mike McGinn in his KUOW interview Monday said he was well aware of city ethics rules that prohibit using city resources to promote a ballot measure.

"I raised money for the school levy last year. I'll probably go into a conference room outside of the mayor's office. I'll raise money for the Families and Education Levy. Mayor Greg Nickels raised money for that fire levy I spoke about...Mayors go outside of their office and use a private phone to support ballot measures."

Using a City Hall conference room doesn't meet ethical muster, said Wayne Barnett, director of the city Ethics and Elections Commission. Barnett said there are public areas of City Hall such as lobbies and stairways where the mayor can legally work on a campaign.

"So long as any member of the public can use the same space, there isn't a violation of the election code," Barnett said.

McGinn spokesman Mark Matassa said Tuesday that the mayor didn't say he would use a City Hall conference room to work on the campaign. When directed to the taped interview on the KUOW website, Matassa said, "What I thought he said, and what I've seen him do, is go outside the mayor's office into the public lobby" on the seventh floor of City Hall.

"He's very cafeful," Matassa said.

The issue of the ethics rules mayors need to follow when participating in campaigns was raised last week after a news conference in which McGinn said he would campaign for a ballot measure on the city-state agreements on the Highway 99 tunnel.

A McGinn staff member, Ainsley Close, took a leave of absence to work on the tunnel referendum. A second staff member, Derek Farmer, joined the referendum campaign Monday.

A former McGinn campaign consultant, Bill Broadhead, donated $5,000 to the campaign. And the mayor's personal Facebook page urges people to contribute to it.

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