Kathy Lambert belatedly apologizes for racist attack mailers as donors and endorsers flee

Only hours after tripling down on her cam­paign’s use of racist, xeno­pho­bic mail­ers to attack her Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Sarah Per­ry, incum­bent Repub­li­can King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Kathy Lam­bert wrote in a post­ing that she has fired her cam­paign con­sul­tant and is sor­ry for the pain and divi­sion that she has caused.

“I need to apol­o­gize for the harm that the fly­er has caused to Coun­cilmem­ber Zahi­lay, my col­leagues, the pub­lic I have long worked for and appre­ci­ate and to my fam­i­ly,” Lam­bert’s post stat­ed. “My ded­i­ca­tion and heart are not to hurt, but to serve. This mes­sage is cer­tain­ly not what was intend­ed. I have ter­mi­nat­ed my con­sul­tants [sic] con­tract and look for­ward to mov­ing ahead in a more pos­i­tive direc­tion. I want to con­tin­ue to focus on the good ahead as well as the great work we have done togeth­er over the last twen­ty years. Again, I am very sorry.”

Just hours ear­li­er, Lam­bert’s cam­paign Face­book page had offered a very dif­fer­ent mes­sage, one appar­ent­ly draft­ed by her now fired con­sul­tants at 1892 LLC, a firm that has a rep­u­ta­tion for slim­i­ness and hard­ball tactics.

“An update from the trail!” it began.

“Our cam­paign sent a mail­er show­ing that my oppo­nent will be a rub­ber stamp for bring­ing rad­i­cal Seat­tle poli­cies to the East­side. My oppo­nent was the hand­picked can­di­date of extreme Seat­tle politi­cians because she backs their failed agen­da that will result in more home­less­ness and crime to our neighborhood.”

“She is now mak­ing out­ra­geous state­ments attack­ing me per­son­al­ly. I will not back down, because the future of the East­side is too important.”

“Elec­tions are about choic­es. And the choice for the East­side is clear,” the mes­sage’s con­clud­ing para­graph said. “If you want to bring the prob­lems of down­town Seat­tle to our neigh­bor­hoods, vote for the hand­picked can­di­date the down­town Seat­tle rad­i­cals are fund­ing. If you want to con­tin­ue our great work, to make our neigh­bor­hood a bet­ter place, I would be hon­ored to have your support.”

Lam­bert’s about face came in the wake of a slew of announce­ments from key donors and endorsers stat­ing that they were aban­don­ing her, includ­ing the Real­tors and the Mariners, who rescind­ed their endorse­ments. (The Mariners also gave $1,000 to Per­ry.) Pre­vi­ous­ly, the Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al board had unen­dorsed Lam­bert’s can­di­da­cy, the first time it has done so in a decade.

Seat­tle Times reporter David Gut­man has a recap of the key devel­op­ments in a sto­ry that I imag­ine will be on the front page of tomor­row’s paper.

While Lam­bert’s apol­o­gy is a start, it isn’t enough.

Lam­bert owes Sarah Per­ry a per­son­al apol­o­gy. She needs to explic­it­ly renounce the con­tent of the mail­ers and acknowl­edge that they were racist and xenophobic.

It is telling that her state­ment began with the words, “I need to apologize”.

That’s a tac­it admis­sion that she’s offer­ing this apol­o­gy because she feels she has to, not because it’s the right thing to do. And say­ing “This mes­sage is cer­tain­ly not what was intend­ed” are not words that are appro­pri­ate for a gen­uine apol­o­gy —  because even if her con­sul­tants cre­at­ed the mail­er, she signed off on it. She’s the can­di­date and is respon­si­ble for the con­tent of all of her advertising.

Our team at NPI is hope­ful that Kathy will go fur­ther and state pub­licly that send­ing the mail­ers and mak­ing racist attacks was wrong, that she now real­izes this, and that she pledges nev­er to use racist imagery or lan­guage ever again.

It would also be very help­ful if Kathy acknowl­edged that it’s not suf­fi­cient for a leader to mere­ly refrain from racist, xeno­pho­bic lan­guage and conduct.

True lead­ers are antiracists.

Kathy Lam­bert clear­ly has a long, long way to go in her antiracism journey.

But, as the say­ing goes, there’s no time to start like the present.

Andrew Villeneuve

Recent Posts

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio calls it quits: Thirty-six years in Congress well spent, with a provocative book to come

DeFazio, seventy-four, has served on the transportation committee from the day he entered Congress in…

2 days ago

Reagan Dunn launches bid for Congress, challenging Kim Schrier in Washington’s 8th

The longtime King County Councilmember is telling Republicans that "we're going to take mom's seat…

4 days ago

COVID-19 Update: Young children are now vaccine-eligible, to the relief of many parents

With the omicron variant B.1.1.529 threatening to complicate management of the coronavirus pandemic, the United…

1 week ago

Happy Thanksgiving 2021!

Here's what our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is grateful for this year.

1 week ago

Washington’s 2021 general election certified; turnout is the third-worst in state history

Fewer than four in ten voters voted for just the third time in a statewide…

1 week ago

New rules to bar oil/gas drilling in the vicinity of Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Situated in the remote Four Corners area in New Mexico and reached by a rough…

2 weeks ago