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Politics Northwest

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May 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Democrats again under fire over JZ Knight donations

JZ Knight

JZ Knight

Two years ago, the state Democratic Party was shamed into giving up $70,000 in donations from JZ Knight after videos surfaced of the Yelm mystic — who claims to channel the 35,000-year-old warrior “Ramtha” — making offensive comments about Mexicans, Catholics and other groups.

But Knight’s money is OK by the Thurston County Democrats. The organization accepted $65,000 from Knight earlier this year and is rebuffing Republican demands that the money be returned.

“JZ Knight is a very good strong Democrat and she totally supports our platform and our goals and I think that’s good enough,” said Roger Erskine, chair of the Thurston County Democrats, in an interview this week.

The new donations were publicized by the Freedom Foundation, a conservative Olympia-based think tank that also released the videos of Knight’s controversial statements in 2012.

In a statement, state Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison called on Democrats to return the money immediately, citing Knight’s “bigoted views.”

In the videos that surfaced in 2012, Knight, during a long channeling session, makes profane comments about Catholics and other groups, and refers at one point to “the invasion of the Mexicans who just breed like rabbits.”

Knight’s defenders say the videos were heavily edited and that her comments were taken out of context. In a statement, Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment said critics have sought “to cast JZ Knight in a false light in order to support their vitriolic agenda.” Knight and her lawyers have gone to court to halt any more unauthorized leaks of material from her school, which operates as a for-profit business.

A Knight spokesman pointed to a website where diverse students of Ramtha have defended her and Ramtha from accusations of racism. The spokesman, Robert Wynne, also pointed to events Knight conducted in Mexico earlier this year, which drew hundreds of participants.

Such explanations satisfied Erskine, who called the charges against Knight unproven “allegations” and said the Democrats will use the cash from Knight for party building activities, including the group’s annual Kennedy Day fundraising dinner.

But Trent England, executive vice president of the Freedom Foundation, called Knight’s defense strange. He said the videos were edited for length, but said that doesn’t change the comments. He noted Knight’s attorneys have fought to keep all the videos off the Internet.

“If somehow their claim is the videos are not being represented correctly, why not put the whole thing up, rather than attempting to litigate it out of existence?” England said.

“It’s just so bizarre that these statements that she makes in the video are virulently anti-Catholic and the Democrats are using it to sponsor their Kennedy Day dinner — which just strikes me in poor taste,” he added.

Democrats, of course, have never been shy at attacking Republicans over offensive racial remarks. In 2012, an aide to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna resigned and apologized over offensive comments she’d made on Twitter, including one which read “shut up and speak English #asians.”

More recently, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Utah rancher Cliven Bundy a “hateful racist” and called on Republicans who had celebrated Bundy’s feud with the federal government to denounce him.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest, Washington state Democratic Party, Washington state Republican Party | Topics: Democratic party, JZ Knight, Ramtha

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