UNITED STATES: Socialists win election privacy fight



It was standing room only in the Federal Court on August 28. People had mobilised to hear Judge Robert Lasnik present his findings on a challenge by Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) candidate Linda Averill to the City of Seattle. At stake was the right to keep the names, addresses and employment details of donors to Averill's campaign private.

Supporters were jubilant when Averill won a preliminary injunction against the city; its ethics and elections commission had denied her an exemption from disclosure requirements. Federal, state and city laws provide for exemptions to minor parties that can show a pattern of threats and harassment. Both the state and city elections commissions have granted exemptions to the FSP in the past.

Averill says that the disclosure laws are designed to help expose major party bribes and corruption. But for socialists, it is different: "The FSP is a minority party that challenges corporate rule. My platform includes calls for taxing Seattle's corporate freeloaders to fund jobs, schools, childcare and expanded public transport. Clearly, my allegiance is with working people, and they are who donate. While my chance of being influenced by the Starbucks and Bill Gates of this world is nil, the same can't be said of the chance for harassment against donors to my socialist campaign."

Averill, a municipal bus driver, is urging Seattle's voters to elect a dynamic working-class people's representative to the city council. The vote takes place on September 16 . She has a growing list of more than 100 organisational and individual endorsers. Among them is the socialist organisation Radical Women and her trade union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local #587. Averill is the ATU's delegate to the King County Labor Council.

In an exciting step forward for left electoral unity, five socialist organisations have endorsed Averill's campaign — the Socialist Party of Oregon, Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative, the Socialist Workers Organisation and the Peace and Freedom Party of San Francisco.

FSP national secretary Henry Noble said he was "heartened" to learn of the support. He expressed the hope that it might be possible one day to "build a socialist electoral alliance capable of giving fed-up voters a real alternative to the pro-war Democrats".

Averill is running on a platform that calls for increased taxes for corporations, defence of immigrants' and gay rights, a US$12 per hour minimum wage, the protection of women's reproductive freedom, rent control, an elected civilian police review board and the nationalisation of major industries.

For more information visit <http://www.socialism.com>.

[Alison Thorne is the Freedom Socialist Party representative on the Australian Socialist Alliance's national executive.]

From Green Left Weekly, September 10, 2003.
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