Republican Dick Muri offered compliments to his Democratic rival Denny Heck in Washington’s 10th Congressional District race today, thanking Heck for giving $3,500 in campaign contributions from Yelm spiritualist JZ Knight to a women’s domestic violence shelter in Olympia. Knight’s comments about Catholics, gays, Mexicans and Jews have produced a political backlash in the past week, and three South Sound Democratic candidates have donated the funds to charity or educational groups.
The state Democratic Party also is donating $70,000 from Knight – split two ways, to the pro-Referendum 74 campaign and to the Anti-Defamation League.
Comments Knight has made in videos about Catholics, gays and Mexicans prompted the moves after state and local Republicans began using videos to hammer Democratic candidates that received Knight’s campaign contributions. Lachney, an Eatonville Democrat challenging Sen. Randy Becker, R-Eatonville, in the 2nd Legislative District, put out a short statement:
“I met Ms. Knight only once. Her thoughts and beliefs are her own. As a member of the same Lutheran Church for more than twenty years I find the language and tenor of her discourse disturbing. As such, the campaign will be donating any contributions from Ms. Knight to educational scholarships.
In regards to the election; voters choose their democracy. Ms Becker’s democracy is anchored in the slander of innuendo and the smear of “guilt by association.” The Lachney campaign secures democracy in the issues: education, the budget, and reason. We are confident that voters November 6th will know the difference. Best wishes to my supporters.” said Bruce Lachney
The state Democratic Party reversed course Friday evening, saying it will get rid of about $70,000 in campaign contributions received from Yelm-based spirit-channeler JZ Knight, whose profanity-filled comments on videos hit out at Catholics, gays, Jews and now Mexicans. The Senate Democratic Campaign Committee is giving away another $900 for the same reason in the latest segment of the rapidly unfolding story.
State Democratic Party chairman Dwight Pelz put out a statement Friday evening saying:
“Recently, we have been made aware of comments made by a contributor to the Democratic Party that do not reflect the values of our party. While we did not solicit any contributions from J.Z. Knight at any point, it is important that we make it clear that we view her comments as offensive and do not condone this kind of vitriol.
“Today, I am announcing that the Washington State Democrats will be donating $35,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, and contributing $35,000 to the Referendum 74 campaign. We as Democrats strongly value equality and inclusiveness, values shared by the ADL and supporters of marriage equality.”
The flare-up over video-taped comments that Yelm-based spirit channeler JZ Knight made about Catholics is turning into a cause celebre for Republicans. Republican state Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville called on her Democratic challenger Bruce Lachney Wednesday to return some $3,600 in campaign contributions that Knight and her school made to his campaign in the 2nd Legislative District.
And in moves that appear well-coordinated with the GOP’s announcement of the video, the state Republican Party has sent a pair of misleading mailers to voters that say Lachney is supported by a “cult leader,” label him “extreme” and insinuate in one piece that Knight is Lachney’s “most trusted adviser.’’
In a milder way, Republican congressional candidate Dick Muri said on Facebook he is going to ask Democrat Denny Heck in the 10th district to donate any contributions from Knight to charity and “to condemn the vitriolic statements” in the video. A search of Federal Election Commission data failed to turn up such donations to Heck this morning. UPDATE: But a recent report filed by Heck that isn’t yet in the database shows Knight gave Heck $3,500 in August.
The case involved proposed subdivisions in Yelm next door to JZ Knight’s 80-acres estate. Knight, who holds what are known in state law as senior water rights, argued the city of Yelm could invade her rights in order to supply water to the new houses.
The court, in a 7-2 vote, agreed with her and against the city.
The case is big in property rights and water rights circles. But the interest grows beyond those areas because of the plaintiff. In his story on the case in May, The News Tribune’s Sean Robinson described her like this: “Knight is a wealthy New Age guru, spiritual adviser to stars, channeler (she claims) of a 35,000-year-old entity, world-famous founder of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment. She wields mystic power, some followers say.”
The decision ends, for now, a four-year legal battle over a proposal to build 568 houses – a 20 percent growth in Yelm’s housing stock.
Here is Justice Charlie Wiggins’ summary of the 7-2 decision that tops the majority opinion released this morning.
“In 2007, five developers filed applications with the city of Yelm (City) for preliminary plat approval of proposed subdivisions. The only developer still party to this action, TTPH 3-8 LLC (Tahoma Terra), sought approval to develop 32 acres into residential lots.
“After a hearing examiner granted Tahoma Terra preliminary plat approval, JZ Knight, a nearby property owner and senior water rights holder, appealed to the Yelm City Council (City Council), arguing the hearing examiner’s conditional approval of the plats erroneously allowed the developers and the City to delay showing adequate water provisions for the subdivision until the building permit stage. The City Council affirmed the preliminary plat approvals, and Knight filed an action in Thurston County Superior Court under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA), chapter 36.70C RCW. This court must decide whether Knight had standing to bring the LUPA action.
“We hold that Knight established that the land use decision is likely to prejudice her water rights and satisfies the statutory standing requirement. We reverse the Court of Appeals.”