Joint Statement on KCGOP Chair Joshua Freed’s Failure to Reckon with Extremist Violence in WA GOP

WA Democratic Party Leaders Reject Meaningless Olive Branch Devoid of Accountability

For Immediate Release | January 11, 2021

SEATTLE — Prior to the attempted insurrection in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday, newly-elected King County Republicans Chair Joshua Freed committed to speaking at and advertised his upcoming appearance at a rally with the “Olympia Freedom Party” espousing similar rhetoric to the rioters who breached the Capitol building the following day. 

Following the violence in both our nation’s capitol and in Olympia last week, he failed to publicize his withdrawal from the event. When called out by his counterpart in the King County Democrats, Chair Shasti Conrad, for this failure of leadership he resorted to classic Republican whataboutism and attempted to divert attention from his complicity with this extremist violence by requesting a “sit down” with his Democratic counterparts. 

In response to this and what are sure to be many meaningless gestures from Republicans seeking to whitewash their reputations of supporting extremist factions within their party, King County Democrats Chair Shasti Conrad and Washington State Democrats Chair Tina Podlodowski issued the following statement:

“There can be no unity, no healing, and no ‘moving past’ the events of the last week without meaningful accountability from existing Republican leaders and elected officials for their role in promoting the extremist elements of their party responsible for this violence. There is no equivalence between isolated incidents of property crime — which Democratic leaders have and continue to condemn — committed during Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice and the violent insurrections by white militia members taking place across our country. 

“To even imply a moral equivalence between largely peaceful protests by communities of color and those standing in solidarity and the organized, militaristic mobilization of mobs seeking to lynch our elected officials by the sitting President of the United States is absurd on its face. We will not stand by and let Chairman Freed’s attempt to distract from his role elevating this extremist wing of his party go unchallenged. His ongoing failure to do so only further endangers the communities of color in King County that he allegedly wants to serve.

“We welcome any Republican leader or elected official sincerely interested in de-escalating this violence to join us in this work, which we have been engaged in for nearly two years as we worked to hold them accountable for enabling extremists like former Rep. Matt Shea. Chairman Freed has not even begun to do the work of dismantling the support he helped build for these extremists, as evidenced by his failure to publicly condemn the event from which he allegedly withdrew until challenged by his political opponents.

“To make this unmistakably clear to Chairman Freed, the public, and members of the press, we have identified a short list of actions he could take to demonstrate his good faith and sincere regret for his role in amplifying extremists within his party during his failed runs for governor and lieutenant governor last year:

  • Unequivocally denounce any violence at the Capitol in Olympia today as well as the violence in Washington, D.C. and Olympia last week;
  • Condemn Republican Representative Robert Sutherland’s “call to war” in response to President-elect Joe Biden’s democratic victory;
  • Condemn former Representative Matt Shea’s call to arms last week, and cease any pandering to such extremists in the Washington GOP as they have clearly have no respect for democracy;
  • Demonstrate his commitment to excising this anti-democratic cancer from his party by ceasing any professional association with his “best friend” who represented Shea during his clashes with the Public Disclosure Commission and also represented Freed during his refusal to respect the rule of law in Washington State;
  • Condemn former gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp’s call for his supporters to show up at Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office to object to certified election results who was subsequently the target of death threats;
  • Publicly retract his endorsement of Loren Culp’s gubernatorial campaign and commit to refraining from endorsing any campaign Culp launches for public office due to his refusal to accept Washington’s certified election results;
  • Call on fellow Republican elected officials and leaders to boycott rallies or protests held by groups who encourage members to openly carry firearms in the proximity of government offices or the Capitol in Olympia; and
  • Publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and submit a binding resolution to his executive board to withhold endorsements and any material support for candidates who fail to do the same.

“Until Chairman Freed demonstrates through his actions — and not just empty rhetoric — that he is interested in the hard work of rebuilding our democracy in the wake of the devastation wrought by Trump and his enablers here in Washington State, we at the Democratic Party have no interest in providing political cover for his transparent attempt to rehabilitate his public image.”