Yesterday, the state Republicans sent out a link to a video of Yelm-based guru JZ Knight evidently going on a homophobic, anti-Catholic, antisemitic diatribe. Snippets of the rant, reportedly taken from a lengthy speech, are woven into a video ad against Sandra Romero, a Democratic Thurston County Commissioner.
Last August, we reported that Knight, who claims to channel an ancient spirit called Ramtha, had contributed $50,000 to the Washington State Democratic Party and had also made a few big contributions to Democratic state senate candidate Bruce Lachney and state Supreme Court Justice Susan Owen. Knight also contributed the max, $1,800, to Romero. And Ramtha's School of Enlightenment has also maxed out to Romero.
(Knight kicked in another $10,000 to the Democratic Party and $900 to the state Senate Democratic Campaign Committee since our first report.)
"She donated $50,000 to the State Democratic Party this year and I am asking Chairman Dwight Pelz to return that donation."
You can watch the Ramtha video here, but be warned, it's pretty hard to listen to. Sample: "Fuck you, you Catholics. You assholes." ... "Your child wanted you to be wealthy, and you gave it up to a fucking Jew."
The Republicans got a link to the video from a group of ex-Ramtha School members who downloaded the clips from a livestream of a February 2012 service at the Ramtha School. They don't like Romero because they say Romero has looked the other way when it comes to what they believe is Knight's "cult."
Virginia Coverdale, one of the people behind the video, and a former member of the Rathma School, says: "It's not like we put words in JZ's mouth. It's what she said."
We contacted the Ramtha School yesterday and have messages in to Knight's spokesman and Knight herself seeking an explanation or a comment. We will update this post with their comments when we hear back.
Washington State Republican Party Chair Kirby Wilbur called on the Democrats to return Knight's money.
Wilbur said in a statement:
She is anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, homophobic, vulgar and profane. She donated $50,000 to the State Democratic Party this year and I am asking Chairman Dwight Pelz to return that donation. I have known Dwight for some time, and though we disagree on much, I don’t think he shares J Z Knight’s views on Catholics, Jews and gays, nor do I believe he would condone such vile and loathsome language. No political party should need funds so much that they take money from such vile and bigoted people, nor tolerate and condone such speech.
Democratic spokesman Benton Strong said "at this point, no" when asked if the Democratis would return Knight's money. He added that it was hypocritical for the Republicans to accuse the Democrats of being homophobic.
"The Republican Party's candidate for governor is voting against marriage equality," he said. "And the state Republican Party platform is against marriage equality."
He also cautioned the Republicans against identifying Democratic donors as bad actors, noting that Tesoro Inc., a major donor to GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and to conservative political committees such as the Association of Washington Business PAC, was accused of negligence by the state in 2010 for a fire at its Anacortes oil refinery that killed seven workers.
Strong did concede that the video was offensive. "Obviously, we condemn the kind of divisive language that is found here."