1. Earlier this year, regional NRA lobbyist Brian Judy made a convoluted, tone deaf, and anti-semitic argument against gun control—something about how Jews, of all people, shouldn't be for gun control because that's how the Holocaust happened (?).
(Initiative I-594, this years winning gun control initiative, was backed by wealthy progressive donor Nick Hanauer, also a big backer of the $15 minimum wage. Hanauer is Jewish.)
I contacted Judy briefly after his remarks; he told me he had to catch a flight and he would get back to me. He never did.
Judy remained AWOL for the rest of the year. Until now. He is back lobbying for the NRA.
19 local Jewish leaders including Zach Carstensen, lobbyist for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle where there was a deadly shooting in 2006, sent a letter to state legislators yesterday calling for Judy's resignation.
Here's the letter:
December 9, 2014
Dear Members of the Legislature,
As leaders in the Jewish community and in the broader community of Washington State, we have been brought together to act to reduce gun violence by our faith and our teachings. That is why we endorsed Initiative 594, which nearly 60% of Washington voters supported: because we must do all that we can to set an example of responsibility and demonstrate the urgent need to save as many as we can from the scourge of gun violence.
Last August, one of the leaders of the opposition to responsible gun laws - National Rifle Association lobbyist Brian Judy - was taped last August comparing I-594 to the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany. He also scapegoated Jewish supporters of background checks and sensible gun laws as having forgotten the history of their people.
These remarks are part of a long, sad history of misappropriation of the facts of the Holocaust. They are also insulting, incendiary, and utterly inappropriate for public discourse.
But even more insulting than that was the absolute silence from Mr. Judy and the NRA when confronted by his remarks. Rather than apologize or even clarify those remarks, Judy claimed he was "boarding a plane" and then disappeared from sight. Religious organizations and many legislators have called upon Judy to resign, and for the National Rifle Association to disavow itself from his comments, only to be ignored.
Mr. Judy was not seen again on the campaign trail or Olympia - until this week, as the new legislative session begins.
What is clear from the decision to return Mr. Judy to his duties is that the National Rifle Association is perfectly willing to be associated with views that are extreme, dangerous, false, and hateful. It is equally clear that it is unacceptable for these circumstances to continue.
We reiterate the call of legislators and civic organizations in our state for Brian Judy to immediately resign from his position as the in-state representative for the National Rifle Association. Failing that, he should be removed from his duties immediately.
And we condemn his employer for its contemptuous silence in response to sustained public outcry. To return Mr. Judy to his duties without so much as an acknowledgement of the harm he has caused is the height of arrogance.
We look forward to constructive, civil conversations in our community and in our state on how we can continue to reduce gun violence. Brian Judy had every opportunity to make his case to the people of
Washington, but instead chose to engage in an angry diatribe which led to his silence—and disappearance—for months. It is clear that he and his organization have no interest in participating in such constructive conversation.
We will continue to be leaders in that conversation, which the wide majority of Washingtonians have made clear that they wish to have. We urge the National Rifle Association to demonstrate that it is willing to be a part of this conversation by rectifying its mistaken actions regarding Mr. Judy immediately.
2. Speaking of this year's legislative session: With education funding once again dominating the agenda, a batch of house Republicans are once again proposing their sound bite bill. Under this year's list of pre-filed bills, Rep. Drew MacEwan (R-35, Union) along with seven other Republicans are proposing a "Fund Education First" bill that would force the legislature to fund K-12 before making any other budgeting decisions.
Democrats argue, with a catchy sound bite of their own, that you can't fund what's happening in the class room by cutting what's happening outside of the classroom—the only way the GOP's silo approach would work (there's a $4 billion overall budget shortfall this session). Rep. MacEwan's bill specifically prohibits new revenue. The legislation says: "this proposal may not rely on revenue sources derived from proposed changes in existing statutes to fund expenditures for K-12 basic education."
The McCleary decision has added fuel to the GOP's education first mantra. Not only has the Court's decision put K-12 in the solo spotlight, but the Court itself ID'd funding education first as one possible remedy.
Of course, the court also suggested revenue sources from "proposed changes" such as closing tax loopholes, the Democratic mantra.