Democratic congressional candidate Denny Heck is giving a $3,500 campaign contribution received from Yelm-based spiritualist JZ Knight to the SafePlace’s sexual and domestic violence program in Olympia.
Knight’s comments about Catholics, gays, Mexicans and Jews have prompted other Democrats to also forfeit her campaign contributions, which she began making in 2012.
Heck’s campaign spokesman Phil Gardner said in an email today: “On Friday Denny made arrangements to donate the entirety of the contribution to SafePlace Olympia, a non-profit that works to assist survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Heck, a Democrat from Olympia, is running in the 10th Congressional District against Republican Dick Muri of Steilacoom, who had called on Heck to give back the funds and denounce the comments.
Asked about Knight’s disparaging comments that were featured on videos, Gardner said: “No matter the context, the comments made were hurtful, very hurtful. This donation hopefully turns that hurt into some good.”
Spokesmen for Knight and her Ramtha School of Enlightenment have said her remarks were taken out of context during a talk about the sexual abuse by Catholic priests and that she has always supported gays and lesbians.
Heck’s donation money will be earmarked for SafePlace’s capital campaign, which has raised about $2.4 million of the $4.7 million it needs for a new community service center, executive director Mary Pontarolo said today.
“I think it’s an opportunity to say to the community – this is what happens when you try to hurt people with your language. Good programs like ours will redirect it to good,’’ Pontarolo said.
The SafePlace service-center project could break ground in late 2013 and open the next year if fundraising continues, Pontarolo said. She said it will have classrooms for educational events, space for support groups and room for an onsite child care.
Heck’s move to dump the contributions follows similar actions by the Washington State Democratic Party, which announced Friday it is giving $35,000 received from Knight to the Anti-Defamation League and $35,000 to the Referendum 74 gay-marriage campaign. State Senate candidate Bruce Lachney of Eatonville said late Sunday he is donating $3,600 received from Knight and her Ramtha School of Enlightenment to unspecified “educational scholarships.”