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McKenna staffer resigns after fallout from her offensive Tweets doesn’t ease

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on July 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
July 18, 2012 12:07 pm

Here’s the Associated Press story on the resignation. (And here’s a link to our earlier post).

BC-WA–McKenna Staffer-Tweet
McKenna campaign staffer resigns over tweets

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP)A campaign staffer for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna who sent tweets months ago making fun of Asians and the elderly has resigned.

Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, said that Kathlyn Ehl had been suspended without pay after the campaign learned of the tweets on Monday, and that her resignation was accepted Wednesday.

Ehl sent one tweet in November, and another in January, both before she started with the campaign. The November tweet criticized elderly people for taking too long to cross the street. The January one read: “shut up and speak english (hash)asians.”

Ehl apologized in an email to The Seattle Times, which in an editorial on Tuesday wrote she should be fired.

Pepple said that the decision for Ehl to resign came after a meeting had been arranged for Ehl to talk with McKenna’s Asian American Coalition and Seattle Steering Committee leaders.

And here is the statement from the campaign.

McKenna Campaign Accepts Ehl Resignation

On Monday, the Rob McKenna for Governor campaign learned of two offensive tweets sent by a staff person, Kathlyn Ehl. Ms. Ehl started work as a campaign volunteer in April and, following her graduation from the University of Washington, became a paid policy assistant last month. Pending an investigation into these actions, which took place before she began volunteering on the campaign, Ms. Ehl was suspended without pay. Today, after facilitating an exchange between Ms. Ehl and the leaders of the campaign’s Asian American Coalition, her resignation was accepted.

“I felt it was important to provide an opportunity for our Asian American Coalition leaders, who have spent countless hours over the last year working to advance our campaign in their community, to let Kathlyn know how hurtful her comments were to them,” said Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager. “It was important for her to thoroughly understand their feelings and to apologize to them for her comments.

“After consulting with the leaders of our Asian American Coalition, members of our Seattle Steering Committee, and several others I reached out to, I accepted Kathlyn Ehl’s resignation from our campaign this morning,” Pepple added.

“As the father of two young women, it pains me to accept the resignation of a young woman for a mistake which occurred before she had even begun her career. However, as we have said, and Kathlyn readily acknowledges, her tweets were offensive and insensitive. Kathlyn suggested, and I agreed after consultation with some of our campaign’s grassroots leaders, that her ongoing involvement on the campaign would be a constant reminder of her lapse in judgment.

“Life teaches us difficult lessons, and sometimes at a very young age. My hope is that she will find some benefit from having learned this lesson now, as it will undoubtedly be a long-lasting one,” Pepple concluded.

Pepple’s decision came after a meeting had been arranged to encourage direct dialogue between Ms. Ehl and McKenna’s Asian American Coalition and Seattle Steering Committee leaders.

“My fellow volunteers appreciated hearing from Ms. Ehl and the campaign’s willingness to seek input from us,” said W. Walter Liang, McKenna’s Seattle-North King County Steering Committee chairman and Asian American Coalition co-chair. “My colleagues and I are confident Ms. Ehl’s apology is sincere, but we also feel it is important to show the community that even an immature error cannot be overlooked when it has such a profound impact.”

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