Seattle will cover the legal expenses Mayor Jenny Durkan incurred while battling a recall petition the state Supreme Court rejected in October.

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

Earlier this year, recall petitioners 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.”


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

State law allows cities to cover legal expenses for elected officials who face recall petitions.

On Monday, Sawant said she was voting to cover Durkan’s expenses on principle, despite opposing the Durkan administration’s handling of the protests, because some elected officials can’t afford to pay their own way.