Democratic candidates for county commissioner have accepted $6,000 in campaign contributions this election cycle from Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment founder JZ Knight.
Knight also has donated $50,000 to the Thurston County Democrats and $54,000 to People for Thurston County, a local PAC, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
“JZ Knight is a liberal, progressive individual who supports progressive candidates,” RSE Spokesman Mike Wright said. “For 40 years, she has left her body and allowed another being to express through it. This is an old story of Republican operatives swiftboating a very liberal, politically progressive donor, and attempting to scare Democratic candidates and progressive voters. The lynch mob attitude won’t work.”
Knight, as an individual, contributed $2,000 to Kelsey Hulse, D-Lacey, in two $1,000 installments in July and September after the primary election, according to the PDC. Along with the donation in July, Knight’s corporation, JZK Inc, contributed $1,000 as well. JZK Inc. contributed another $1,000 in October.
Knight has also contributed to Jim Cooper’s, D-Olympia,
campaign both as an individual and as JZK, Inc. As an individual Knight contributed $1,000 to his campaign at the end of September. JZK, Inc. also contributed $1,000 in September. Blu Room Enterprises, a company Knight has close ties with, has also donated $1,000.
Cooper or anyone from his campaign did not return phone calls as of press time.
County Commissioner Sandra Romero, D-Lacey, accepted campaign donations from Knight in 2012 after videos of Knight making racist, anti-semitic and homophobic comments at a Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment event. Shortly after the videos were released, Knight issued a statement the videos were “heavily edited” and filed a lawsuit against Virginia Coverdale, the woman who released the videos online, in Thurston County Superior Court.
“Knight said from the beginning that the video clips were taken out of context and edited to make a political attack ad,” Wright said. “JZ Knight won her lawsuit against Virginia Coverdale and the appeals all the way to the Washington state Supreme Court.”
The lawsuit was recently decided in favor of Knight when the Washington state Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal in September.
Jessie Simmons, Hulse’s campaign manager, said he was unaware of the videos when the contributions were made. He said he can’t speak for Hulse herself and does not know if she was aware of the videos. Since becoming aware of the videos this past week, Simmons said he is undecided about whether or not to return the money.
“Everyone can contribute, we don’t necessarily agree with everyone who contributes,” he said. “Kelsey is running for everybody. … She wants to move the county forward.”
So far Hulse’s campaign has raised over $82,000. The largest contributor to her campaign is the Thurston County Democrats, which contributed over $14,000. Several unions have contributed as well.
Former Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment spokesperson and local blogger Steve Klein has contributed $1,300 to Hulse’s campaign as well. He said he supports her because of her new ideas and understanding.
“She has a vision and passion for the environment and social issues,” he said. “She is committed to support and listens to all constituents. … That is a stand I wholeheartedly support.”
Klein has also contributed $350 to Cooper’s campaign. Other Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment students have contributed money to both campaigns. However, the only two individuals to contribute more than $1,000 are Knight and Klein.
So far Cooper has raised more than $67,000, with the largest contributions totalling over $14,000 coming from Thurston County Democrats. The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and several trade unions have contributed to his campaign as well.
Knight also contributed $2,000, as both an individual and JZK, Inc., to the failed campaign of Diane Dondero. Dondero ran for the county commission against Cooper and John Hutchings, who both are in the general election.
“Knight and the people of RSE are not conservative. They are not Alt-Right Republicans. They are forward-thinking, free-spirited, educated people who want a liberal, progressive future,” Wright said. “They aren’t interested in returning to an America of the 1950s and early ’60s.”
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