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McKenna Campaign Staffer Resigns After Insensitive Tweets About Asians, Elderly

Kathlyn Ehl, campaign staffer for Rob McKenna resigned Wednesday morning after exchanges with Asian-American supporters.

 

A staffer for gubernatorial candidate and Bellevue resident Rob McKenna resigned after an uproar over two postings on Twitter that were derogatory toward Asians and the elderly.

The Stranger's blog "The Slog" uncovered posts by staffer Kathlyn Ehl that were posted in January: "shut up and speak english #asians" and in November: "If it takes you an entire green light to walk in front of my car GET A WHEELCHAIR #toooldtowalk" (punctuation in the original).

While Ehl, a recent graduate of the University of Washington according to her LinkedIn account, has since deleted the two tweets, as well as others from her Twitter account, The Stranger posted the history of her tweets as of Friday before her timeline was edited.

McKenna's campaign reported that Ehl resigned after an exchange between Ms. Ehl and the leaders of the campaign’s Asian American Coalition.

The campaign for McKenna, the state attorney general and leading Republican in the race for governor, said in a statement that Ehl's continued participation would be a "constant reminder of her lapse in judgement."

The campaign said that 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. She was suspended without pay after the tweets came to light, according to the campaign.

The campaign released a statement, which included the following statements from campaign manager Randy Pepple and W. Walter Liang, McKenna’s Seattle-North King County Steering Committee chairman and Asian American Coalition co-chair.

“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.”

What do you think? Was this fair?

Tony Bussert July 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM
This kind of makes me cringe in all sorts of ways. The thing I come away with is that Ehl is 22. 22 year olds make stupid decisions sometimes. Ehl voiced some stupid opinions before she worked for McKenna that probably crosses a lot of people's minds at one time or another, but they don't voice. McKenna has young daughters, he KNOWS they make stupid mistakes, but because he's running for office he can't just say, "she's young and made a dumb mistake, let's try to teach her why and let her continue to be an asset to my campaign". To me it's kind of blown out of proportion and there are better ways to handle the situation, however the public's thirst for political blood won't let it be what it is.

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