ICYMI – Crosscut Story on Culp’s Book Shows Yet Again His Out of Touch Values and Dangerous Views

“How Loren Culp’s book tour turned into a campaign for WA governor” covers Culp on guns, masks, initiatives, constitutionality, fake founding father quotes, and more.

For Immediate Release | October 3, 2020

SEATTLE — Yesterday Crosscut published their story “How Loren Culp’s book tour turned into a campaign for WA governor”, covering Culp’s views on a wide variety of issues, from comparing gun safety legislation to the Holocaust to likening our state’s initiative process to lynch mobs. 

While this isn’t the first time that Culp’s wildly out of touch views on measures like Initiative 1639 (which was approved by 59.35% of Washington voters and upheld in federal court) have made news, this is the deepest dive yet into Culp’s personal writing on the subject comparing voter approved gun safety to the Holocaust and Jim Crow: 

Several times, Culp’s book compares Washington’s 2018 gun law, I-1639, to historic atrocities such as the Holocaust and segregationist laws of the Jim Crow South. The three topics interrelate, Culp says, because all are examples of unjust laws police should have refused to enforce.

“I hope that we can move past the statement that because you are ‘law enforcement’ you must enforce the law,” Culp writes at one point. “Remember Rosa Parks and the millions of Jews who lost their lives due to that thinking. Don’t be that cop.”

He later adds: “Rosa Parks would never have been arrested and taken to jail if police would have understood this principle, and millions of Jews would not have been marched to their deaths in Germany.”

The story also covers Culp’s opposition and ahistorical view of democracy itself :

“It is obvious to me, our founders hated democracy,” Culp writes. By contrast, Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, and Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Tse-tung “loved democracy,” Culp writes. 

Cornell Clayton, a professor who directs the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, said Culp’s line of thinking ignores all the amendments to the U.S. Constitution approved after the Civil War, which “fundamentally changed the nature of the Constitution and made it more democratic.” Those later amendments are why state legislators no longer appoint U.S senators; Black people are no longer enslaved; and women and Black people can vote.

Culp also explains his thinking for why he should be allowed to personally decide what laws should and should not be enforced – a privilege he apparently reserves for himself alone:

Clayton said Culp is also off base by insisting that he and other government officials are obligated to not enforce laws they personally deem unconstitutional. “His duty is to uphold the constitution as it is interpreted by the courts,” Clayton said.

When asked what gives him the authority to single-handedly determine what is constitutional and what isn’t, as opposed to following judicial rulings, Culp gave another example of a human rights violation: the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“The Supreme Court of the United States upheld a Democrat president, FDR, putting 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II for our safety,” Culp said. “So judges don’t always come down on the right side of things.”

Clayton said that while it’s true that people have to make individual moral judgments themselves, that’s different from the “question of the institutional responsibilities as an elected official.”

“If he wants to disagree with what the court asks him to do on moral grounds, that’s perfectly fine, but then what you do is you resign your office,” Clayton said. “You don’t flout the law, especially if you are charged with upholding the law.”

Culp isn’t alone in his views, however. A group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which recently named Culp its police chief of the decade, similarly believes that local law enforcement officials have broad authority to decide which laws are constitutional and which are not. In addition to arguing that county sheriffs should assist in taking back land from the federal government, the group contends “county Sheriffs must use their authority to protect their citizens from abuse and violation of their rights by the invasion of illegal aliens.”

Alarmingly, like Donald Trump, Culp continues to associate with far right and white supremacist militias and deny racism exists:

On the edge of the crowd in Arlington, a man watched intently as Culp spoke. He wore a shirt with the number 12 written in Roman numerals and surrounded by stars. The Anti-Defamation League identifies the number 12 as a numeric symbol for Aryan Brotherhood-named racist prison gangs.

Culp’s campaign didn’t respond to an inquiry this week asking about his views on the militia movement. The chairman of the state Republican Party, Caleb Heimlich, also didn’t respond to a request for an interview to discuss Culp’s campaign.

Earlier in the election cycle, Culp’s campaign paid $7,000 to Peter Diaz, a businessman who started a group called American Wolf. While Diaz says American Wolf isn’t an actual “group,” per se, it organizes armed civilians to go to anti-racism protests and act as “peacekeepers,” with a mission of supporting law enforcement officers. 

In an August phone interview, Culp said he has never seen racism during his time as a police officer and doesn’t believe there is institutional racism in the justice system. “I’ve never seen anyone even act anywhere close to being a racist, and I’ve been in police work for 10 years,” he said.

A week and a half later, Culp told the crowd in Arlington that George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police in a terrible manner. People were right to protest that, Culp said, but he objects to protests that “turn violent.” 

Culp then accused “the left” of wanting to divide people by race, sex and age. “That’s not America,” he said.

Vernon Johnson, a political science professor who directs Western Washington University’s Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education, said Culp may not be trying to cultivate support among racists, armed militia members or white supremacists. But, at a minimum, Culp’s experience as a police chief in a rural county where less than 1% of the population is Black seems to have left him with an incomplete understanding of the role racism plays in U.S. society, Johnson said. 

“I don’t think he has much of an understanding of race, but I don’t think race is driving him,” Johnson said.

At the same time, Johnson said, “I think the racists and the white nationalists will vote for him.”

And embarrassingly, as many extreme conservatives do, Culp apparently believes that a whole bunch of fake quotes attributed to politicians who helped found the United States are in fact real:

Another is that the book is peppered with quotes attributed to America’s Founding Fathers, mostly about the importance of gun ownership and fighting tyranny. A little research, however, reveals several of those quotes aren’t real. Researchers at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate, for instance, say there’s no record Jefferson ever said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” — or this, or this. The book throws in at least one other questionable quote, from Alexander Hamilton, for good measure.

All told, the story is an illuminating view of a man who is unqualified to be Governor of Washington state, with dangerous opinions on gun safety, COVID response, racial issues, and others. Culp ignores scientists, experts, and even the will of the voters on these major subjects, and would put countless Washingtonians at risk if elected.