Yesterday was good news, bad news for would-be Seattle arena builder Chris Hansen: The environmental lawsuit against his would-be Seattle arena was unanimously tossed out of court, and then he agreed to pay a $50,000 fine for failing to report $80,000 in campaign contributions to the group trying to hold a referendum on a Sacramento Kings arena. Campaign contributions, by the way, that Hansen now insists were made without his knowledge or consent:
I agreed that a portion of the funds paid to Loeb could, in the future, be used for political purposes if a broad-based political committee, consisting of other donors and independent of STOP, were established to oppose the effort to build an arena in Sacramento. It was never my desire or intent to either directly fund signature gathering or to be the primary financial sponsor of the opposition’s efforts…
Without my knowledge or consent, Loeb & Loeb advanced $80,000 to GoCo consulting to collect signatures to qualify an initiative that would require a public vote on a new arena. At this time, a broad-based political committee had not yet been established, and I neither directed nor authorized Loeb & Loeb to make this expenditure on my behalf.
So Hansen did give money to his lawyers to give to the referendum campaign, he just didn’t tell them to hand it over yet. Hansen also claims he didn’t know about the donation himself until the public uproar began over where the money had come from, and he promptly stepped up to report it afterwards. And he intends to “take steps to prevent any signatures collected by GoCo from being submitted to the opposition.”
How much of this is true, there’s no way of knowing — though it’s worth noting that his initial defense, that he got “caught up in the heat of battle,” doesn’t completely jibe with this new explanation. But clearly Hansen is scrambling to do damage control, either to make up for his lawyers’ screwup, his own, or both. Now he just has to hope that David Stern is listening.