A day after a video surfaced showing her defending a 22-year-old white nationalist, Cecily Wright resigned as chairwoman of the Spokane County Republican Party.
The announcement came late Wednesday in a post on the local GOP’s Facebook page. On Tuesday, Wright had come under fire for introducing James Allsup, a former president of the College Republicans chapter at Washington State University, during a July 11 meeting of the local conservative group Northwest Grassroots.
A prolific YouTuber known for racist taunts and extreme stances on immigration policy, Allsup, who now belongs to a white separatist group called Identity Evropa, was invited to speak at the meeting “to dispel the label he has been identified with as a racist and white supremacist – a chance to defend and explain himself,” Wright said in a statement Tuesday.
Gesturing to a slideshow presentation, Wright had introduced Allsup as a victim of “label lynching.”
Tina Podlodowski, the chairwoman of the Washington State Democratic Party, had demanded that Wright resign in a statement Wednesday morning, calling attention to the unseemly use of the term “lynching” to describe perceived slights against Allsup.
The phrase “label lynching” has recently gained popularity within some conservative factions to describe misportrayals by political opponents and the media. It has been used by state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley.
“Not only did Cecily Wright defend James Allsup, she introduced him as the victim of ‘label lynching’ – a grotesquely uninformed phrase that trivializes the violence inflicted on people of color by actual lynchings through our country’s history,” Podlodowski said. “And this wasn’t just a slip of the tongue. Cecily’s prepared introduction of Allsup centered around the idea of ‘label lynching.’ She even included an image of a noose in her presentation.”
Podlodowski also called on U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Susan Hutchison, a former Washington State Republican Party chairwoman who is running for Senate, to urge Wright to step down.
Asked Wednesday if Wright should resign, Hutchison’s campaign did not directly answer the question but offered a statement denouncing Allsup.
“Susan Hutchison was a co-sponsor for the RNC’s resolution that condemned the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, of which Allsup was a participant,” the statement reads. “As GOP Chairman, Susan is on the record in a letter to the National College Republicans demanding they swiftly remove Allsup from their organization. After that, Allsup attacked Susan Hutchison on social media.”
A spokesman for McMorris Rodgers did not respond to requests for comment before Wright’s resignation was announced. However, McMorris Rodgers has issued statements in the past condemning Allsup’s actions and rhetoric.
Although Wright later characterized the Allsup situation as “a lesson to more thoroughly research individuals before giving them a platform to speak,” she can be heard at the end of the Northwest Grassroots video telling Allsup, “OK, well I really appreciate you.”
Wright was elected chairwoman in April by Republican precinct committee officers following the resignation of former Chairwoman Stephanie Cates. Vice Chairman Isaiah Paine will step in as acting chairman. Party bylaws require that an election be held within 30 days of the position becoming vacant.
In Wednesday’s Facebook post, Wright again apologized for what she called “a serious mistake in my judgment.”
The post continues: “The Spokane County GOP remains committed to standing against white supremacy, racism, and bigotry in all forms. We will always support a free society where individuals are judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.”
Spokesman-Review reporter Jim Camden contributed to this report.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.