Nobody likes to see their money get wasted. This is true, even for donors to the Thurston County Democratic Party, yet last year the money donated was clearly wasted very impressively. Republicans don’t want us writing an article like this because it might help the Democratic Party fix its spending problems. However, it should be our good-citizen duty to explore the truth about our civic institutions and how they could improve, regardless of the partisan impact.
First, it is worth noting that the Thurston County Democratic Party, unlike every other Democratic Party chapter in the State of Washington is largely funded by a local racist hate cult leader named JZ Knight. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it gets even worse the closer you study it….
The weirdness of JZ Knight and the Thurston County Democrats
JZ Knight is a long-time cult leader from Thurston County, and has spent most of her professional career occupying her compound located near the City of Yelm in eastern Thurston County. JZ Knight claims to channel a 35,000 year old homicidal Lemurian warrior spirit named “Ramtha” who has travelled through space and time (violating the laws of physics and common sense) to donate large sums of money to the Thurston County Democrats. Ramtha has also warned her/its followers to prepare for the impending
invasion of the “Lizard People” (who supposedly live under the glaciers of nearby Mt. Rainier) among other apocalyptic prophesies. The Washington State Democratic Party divested themselves of her/its cash in 2012 when videos were released to the public of her/it making racist and hate speech about Mexicans, Jews, Catholics, gays, organic farmers, and others. Despite the well-documented hate-speech history, stacks of cash talk much louder than racist rants, and the Thurston County Democratic Party has been willing to put aside any qualms about racist speeches and accept large sums of cash from JZ Knight/Ramtha. Cash might not buy you love, but it can buy you a local political party.
Awash in Cash, Ramtha gave freely
From 2014 through 2016, the Thurston County Democratic Party has raised $526,391 according to their reports with the Public Disclosure Commission. For contrast and comparison, the Thurston County Republican Party has raised $115,468. Of the over half million dollars the Thurston Democrats raised, $145,000 of it came directly from racist cult leader JZ Knight/Ramtha. This was more money than all the cash raised by the local Republicans during that same time.
However, that is only part of the JZ/Ramtha cash gravy train. JZ Knight also has funded local Political Action Committees – one called People for Thurston County PAC – to which she/it donated $54,000 in 2016 alone. On top of this,
she/it used her various corporate structures and personal donations to fund local Democrat politicians like Auditor Mary Hall ($3800), recent Thurston County Commissioner candidate Kelsey Hulse ($5000), recent Thurston County Commissioner candidate Jim Cooper ($3000), and Democrat Representative Laurie Dolan ($3,000). When you include these bonus cash infusions – this 35,000 year old warrior spirit channeller gave at least $215,000 to the Thurston County Democrats over the last three years alone. This was far more money than any union or any other special interest funnelled into local politics during this time period (for example, all labor money donated directly to the Thurston County Democratic Party didn’t top $4,000 during this same time).
Other than tacit white-washing of racist rants, what did Ramtha get for all this cash?
Unfortunately, for JZ/Ramtha , it doesn’t look like the prophecies of political success were much better than the prophetic prediction of an apocalyptic invasion of Lizard People in Thurston County. First, control of the Thurston County Commission was lost by the Democratic Party for the first time in modern history – almost inversely proportional to the cash she gave. Despite a much larger war chest, failure was the most obvious result. Secondly, despite the fact that JZ Knight voted for Clinton (and Ramtha endorsed Trump, which just goes to show you that you can have it both ways when you channel an ancient warrior spirit), Trump became President. However, every political party goes through its ups and downs. One question nobody is asking is how was the money spent? Apparently, not very well.
Wasting the cash, flubbing a fundraiser, and skimming kickbacks to your friends.
One of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Thurston County Democrats is the Kennedy Day Dinner (used to be Jefferson/Jackson Day Dinner, but it was determined that while these guys were indeed the founders of the modern day Democratic Party, Jefferson owned slaves and Jackson was a racist, and therefore the name was changed to “Kennedy” because he didn’t own slaves and wasn’t an obvious racist). Unfortunately for the Thurston County Democrats, according to documents uncovered during a public records request at the Public Disclosure Commission, the Democrats actually managed to lose money on the Kennedy Day Dinner this year. This is a little surprising because it is fairly well attended. However, Jim Cooper (recent failed candidate for Thurston County Commission and current Olympia City Councilman) wryly made the discovery in his effort to unravel his many campaign finance violations.
“I pulled the raw expenses from the Democrats Quickbooks fie (sic) on Costs of Kennedy dinner for you. Sadly, because attendance was down ‐ total costs of delivering food and beverage actually were higher than the ticket price. Now that’s a fundraiser!” – Jim Cooper email to PDC dated December 8 2016 (docs linked here)
Everyone can have a bad fundraiser, but the Thurston Democrats also made some strange expenditure decisions in 2016. Usually political parties at a local level try to be frugal with their money, but since JZ Knight must have seemed like an endless well of cash – the Thurston County Democrats were willing to squander a total of $15,000 for “office space” rent with Joe Hyer for a few months. Mr. Hyer was a former Treasurer for the Thurston County Democrats, former Olympia City Councilman, and Democrat Party pick for Thurston County Treasurer who was convicted of selling illegal drugs in a school zone in 2010, and who has been involved in a securities fraud scandal in 2015. While Mr. Hyer’s felon status forced him to take a lower profile position in the Democratic Party and on Jim Cooper’s campaign, it appears he was able to still get his hands on some of the Ramtha cash. Unlike selling illegal drugs in a school zone, this was not illegal, but it raised more than a few eyebrows when people realized how much more effective that money could have been spent actually making voter contact to help elect someone the party supported.
It is always easy to be a Monday morning quarterback after political elections. This is a common pastime for many political junkies. However, these actions by the former Thurston County Democrat leadership should serve as lessons to the new crew just elected. While paranoia still reigns throughout the local party, there is no reason for them to follow the same harmful path recently travelled by the previous leadership. No need to align with a weird racist cult leader for cash, and perhaps once the Attorney General and the Public Disclosure Commission finishes auditing and investigating the shoddy campaign paperwork, someone can figure out better ways to raise and spend the money they do get. We are eternally optimistic that it won’t require prophecies from Ramtha to get there. Perhaps then, they can make the Thurston County Democratic Party great again.
OUR CONSTITUTION BEGINS WITH THE PHRASE “WE THE PEOPLE.” IT WAS THE FOUNDER’S INTENT THAT GOVERNMENT BE CREATED BY THE PEOPLE, TO SERVE THE PEOPLE. IT WASN’T THEIR INTENTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO SERVE THE GOVERNMENT. IT WAS ALWAYS INTENDED THAT GOVERNMENT WHICH FAILED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE “ALTERED OR ABOLISHED.” UNTIL WE RETURN TO THE FOUNDER’S INTENT, WE REMAIN WE THE GOVERNED…