State GOP Chair Says it’s ‘Essential’ Dems Reject Knight’s Cash

State GOP Chair Says it’s ‘Essential’ Dems Reject Knight’s Cash

State GOP Chair Says it’s ‘Essential’ Dems Reject Knight’s Cash

Washington State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchinson on Wednesday echoed calls for the Thurston County Democratic Party to return a recent $65,000 donation from Yelm-based spirit channeler J.Z. Knight, even as the local party chair implied several videotapes uncovered two years ago showing Knight engaged in profanity-laced attacks on several minority groups might not be authentic.

Interviewed Wednesday afternoon on “Freedom Daily,” a radio show hosted by the Oympia-based Freedom Foundation think tank, Hutchinson likened the Knight controversy to the unfolding drama involving Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and the racist comments that led to his being severely disciplined this week by the league.

“I think it’s essential (they return the money),” Hutchinson said. “If the people of this country are intolerant in the realm of sports entertainment, then certainly in the realm of politics we are absolutely intolerant of anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic types of comments that J.Z. Knight continually makes.”

Knight, who claims to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior named Ramtha, oversees an organization known as the Ramtha School of Enlightenment from her sprawling compound in Yelm. The school has attracted numerous well-known students from the entertainment world, including actresses Linda Evans, Shirley MacLaine and Salma Hayek, who pay money for Ramtha’s guidance.

Knight has also become more politically active in recent years, donating exclusively to Democratic candidates – including more than $100,000 to President Obama’s re-election campaign. Knight also donated more than $70,000 in 2012 to the Washington State Democratic Party – money the party ultimately decided it could not accept when The Freedom Foundation obtained copies of the inflammatory Knight speeches.

Hutchinson said by accepting Knight’s money rather than distancing themselves from her incendiary orations, the Democrats are essentially endorsing them.

“She’s clearly racist, and her comments are not helpful to the political process,” she said. “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.”

Meanwhile, Thurston County Democratic Chair Roger Erskine, far from disavowing Knight, described her as a “good Democrat” and denied she was a bigot.

“Those are allegations that have been made. Those are being dealt with in the courts,” Erskine said Wednesday in a story published by The Olympian. “As far as I know, the courts have not charged her with anything. … I don’t know the background on that. She was never jailed; she has never paid any fines.

“I think the Freedom Foundation, if they had received the money, would not have said anything except thank you,” Erskine added.

In prepared statement, Knight spokesman Rob Wynne earlier this week made reference to a court trial over the videos, suggesting they were altered by the whistle-blowers who released them to make Knight look like a racist.

“JZK, Inc. received admissions by both defendants that the videos they disseminated in 2012 had first been edited,” Wynne wrote. “(One) hired a video editor to create what she wanted. (The other) did the editing himself to create the impressions he wanted, including altering audio tracks from the original video recordings.

“Our critics aren’t happy that the truth contradicts the image of the ‘evil demon’ they promulgate,” he wrote To them, Democratic officials had been corrupted or fooled by JZ Knight but not our critics.They wouldn’t let facts distract them, so they ignore the conclusions of competent authorities and become vigilantes.”

“The original videotapes were many hours long,” countered Freedom Foundation spokesman Glen Morgan. “Of course they were edited down – for length. Just because the tapes didn’t include hours of additional strange rambling by J.Z. Knight doesn’t mean the racist quotes that were included were somehow manufactured.”

“What did someone do?” he asked. “Hire an actor to impersonate her voice and then sync it up perfectly with her lips? When J.Z. 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,” Morgan continued, “why don’t they release the unedited videos?  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 Youtube.”

As for whether the Freedom Foundation would have accepted money from Knight had it been offered, Morgan quipped, “The only money we’ve ever taken from J.Z. Knight was when the judge ordered her to pay our legal fees after filing a frivolous lawsuit against us. And we gladly cashed her check.”

Vice President for News and Information
Jeff is a native of West Virginia and a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in journalism. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., as a broadcast journalist and has worked at a number of newspapers in West Virginia and Washington. Most recently, he spent 11 years as editor of the Port Orchard (Wash.) Independent, which earned the 2011 Washington Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s General Excellence Award as the top community newspaper in Washington. Previously, he was editor of the Business Examiner newspaper in Tacoma, Wash., for seven years. Jeff lives in Lacey; he and his wife have grown twin daughters.