A solemn Spokane County Commissioner George Marlton apologized Monday for unleashing a string of profanities and a sexual reference to a woman campaign worker.
Marlton, appointed to the commission in June and facing a primary election next week, said his language was inappropriate but “out of character.”
On Friday, Marlton walked into a room with two county managers, Commissioner Steve Hasson and a Spokesman-Review reporter he did not know.
Marlton, 50, joked that he told a farmer to blow up a problem bridge, then made scatological and sexual references.
As reporter Dan Hansen listened, Marlton then referred to filming a campaign commercial earlier in the day under the direction of a female consultant.
He said that the woman promised him oral sex if he looked good on camera. Marlton also gestured as if he were masturbating.
The campaign consultant was angry and humiliated Monday and asked that her name not be used. She denied making the oral sex offer.
She said she was dropping his campaign and would force him to reshoot his commercials with another consultant. “I’m just sick to my stomach,” she said.
Marlton’s campaign chairwoman, Virginia Goldman, said she was offended by his remarks, but would continue to head his election effort because he is remorseful.
‘He’s just devastated,” Goldman said. “He’s so ashamed of himself. It’s not typical of him.”
Marlton calls himself a champion of women’s rights, noting that last month he authored a county resolution commemorating the 75th anniversary of women’s right to vote in this country.
“I think I owe everyone an apology on this,” he said. “I was tired. I feel terrible about it. We’ve all made mistakes.
“I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings who believed in me. I feel I’m a real sensitive person. I would hate this to lose me the election. I’m almost in tears over this.”
Jan Polek, a Spokane women’s advocate and Marlton supporter, said his comments were “very disconcerting.”
America is still reeling from U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood’s sexual harassment scandal, which she said should serve as “a wakeup call to men in public life that the way they behave in their offices and behind closed doors is going to matter.
“Women’s groups and women in general are getting very tired of the public persona versus the private one,” said Polek, who heads the gender equity program at the Institute for Extended Learning, a branch of the Spokane community colleges. She’s also a member of the Women’s Political Caucus.
“We have to wear the same outfit in private and public,” she said.
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