State Republicans and a right-leaning Olympia think tank are putting pressure on Thurston County Democrats to return money donated by Yelm Channeler JZ Knight.
Thurston County Democrats are resisting the call to return the money, calling the Republicans’ actions partisan political maneuvering.
Knight’s political contributions previously came under fire following the release of a video that showed the Yelm channeler making controversial statements about gays, Catholics, Mexicans and Jewish people.
According to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, Knight recently made two donations to the Thurston County Democratic Central Committee: $50,000 on Feb. 25 and $15,000 on March 24. She also donated $500 to the committee in October 2013.
Susan Hutchinson, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, called for Thurston Democrats to return Knight’s money in a press release sent Tuesday, calling Knight a “homophobic cult leader.”
“JZ Knight has made millions by peddling to a group of disciples the kind of vulgar speech we hear on these tapes,” the release states. “She then donates her ill-gotten gain to the Democrats. Do we want money from people who pay to be entertained by hate speech electing candidates to our Legislature? Democrats Irene Bowling and Kathy Haigh should be ashamed that an organization supporting their campaigns would accept contributions from JZ Knight. … We call upon Bowling and Haigh to tell the Thurston County Democrats to return these funds immediately.”
Roger Erskine, chair of Thurston County Democrats, said his organization uses a “couple of tests” to decide whether or not to endorse a candidate or receive monetary contributions from someone.
The two tests: Are they a Democrat in good standing, and do they believe in the organization’s platform?
Erskine said his organization is convinced Knight is a Democrat and has written statements from her saying she supports their platform.
“We do think it should be everybody’s right to participate in the political process and so we graciously accepted her contribution with great thanks,” he said.
The Freedom Foundation quoted Hutchinson in a press release sent out last week.
“She’s clearly racist, and her comments are not helpful to the political process,” she said of Knight. “I can guarantee you that if the same thing happened on our side, not only the Democrats, but the media and the newspapers would be all over us to return the money.”
“Hutchinson said by accepting Knight’s money rather than distancing themselves from her incendiary orations, the Democrats are essentially endorsing them,” the release states.
A statement released by RSE last week states the videos were highly edited to misrepresent the teachings of Ramtha.
“Court documents are available for public inspection in Thurston County in the case against Virginia Coverdale and in the New Zealand High Court in Auckland in the case against David McCarthy vs. JZK, Inc. received admissions by both defendants that the videos they disseminated in 2012 had first been edited. … The videos were edited to give the appearance that the statements were meant to be taken literally as delivered rather than in the context that the original audience understood as having a completely different purpose.”
Freedom Foundation spokesman Glen Morgan said in a press release the videos the Freedom Foundation released were edited for length, not to misrepresent what was said.
“The original videotapes were many hours long,” he said. “Of course they were edited down — for length. Just because the tapes didn’t include hours of additional strange rambling by JZ Knight doesn’t mean the racist quotes that were included were somehow manufactured. … What did someone do? Hire an actor to impersonate her voice and then sync it up perfectly with her lips? When JZ Knight’s lawyers pressured YouTube to take the videos down, it was on the basis of alleged copyright infringement, not that the videos were bogus. And a judge later ruled against her on that point, too.
“If the videos were edited in some way, why don’t they release the unedited videos?” he said. “Of course, they won’t — because the ones we released were not edited. Far from wanting to expose the truth, they want to hide the truth by intimidating the media, the press and You Tube.”
Erskine said he’d like to see the Freedom Foundation or local Republican organizations disclose who gives them money and what their tests are for accepting it.
“(I don’t know) why they are trying to restrict anybody’s right to participate as long as they are good, upstanding citizens and good voters, from our standpoint,” Erskine said. “Why they want to stop that is probably they have motives that I just don’t understand and I don’t appreciate. They’re just … trying to diminish our ability to really run an effective program and support Democrats so I think that’s just a very partisan thing on their part.”