Spokane County GOP Chairwoman resigns after introducing accused white nationalist at July event

Most party leaders support the decision
Spokane County GOP Chairwoman resigns after introducing accused white nationalist at July event

Late Wednesday night, Cecily Wright announced her immediate resignation as Chairwoman of the Spokane County Republican Central Committee. The resignation came after social justice groups organized protests after a YouTube video showed her introducing an accused white nationalist, James Allsup at a Northwest Grassroots meeting back in early July.

Northwest Grassroots is not affiliated with the official county Republican party, but is Tea-Party leaning. For more information on the group click here.

Allsup is the former head of the Washington State University College Republican’s, which he helped found. He resigned that post after appearing at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has also worked with Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

He was also elected a Whitman County Republican Party Precinct Committee Officer, after running unopposed.

On Thursday morning, many Spokane County Republican leaders gathered in front of the Spokane County Courthouse to speak out against Allsup and call out Wright.

“I feel that it is very appropriate that Cecily resigned so that she is not speaking as the face of our party,” said County Commissioner Mary Kuney, ” I think that it would be very awkward to have her be the face of our party, knowing that she’s ok with having this speaker speak.”

She also called out her primary opponent, current County Treasurer Rob Chase for attending the meeting.

“We Republicans believe in free speech,” said State Senator Michael Baumgartner, who is running for County Treasurer, “we just can’t have the chair of the Republican party in Spokane giving that kind of hate a platform.”

He says nothing during his time in the Republican party is represented by Allsup or what was in the Northwest Grassroots video.

“I was kind of joking that I had a “whiskey tango foxtrot” moment when I watched that video, I was like good grief what is this,” he said.

In that video, Allsup speaks for roughly 15 minutes speaking out against the “gay agenda,” “trans-genders teaching children,” and saying that “there are some things that you shouldn’t be tolerant of, there are something so revolting, and we are talking socially, that we shouldn’t be tolerant of.”

Other Republican leaders speaking out included Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

“This guy does not represent us,” he said, “he is a racist and there are no ifs ands or buts about James Allsup. He is a cancer trying to infect our youth, and we have had to deal with problems because of this young man.”

In responding to Wright’s explanation that it had been her husband that invited Allsup and that she had initially been opposed to it, he had this to say.

“I’m saddened that she took that tone, when you make a mistake you own it, and that was a huge mistake,” he said.

A month before Wright was seen introducing Allsup at the meeting, she had issued a statement denouncing Allsup.

In speaking with KXLY on Tuesday when the story broke she addressed the sudden flip-flop by saying that she had wanted to give the 22-year-old the chance to clear his name and explain himself during a meeting addressing “label lynching”.

She says he did nothing to shed the labels, like white nationalist, or racist that he’s been given and felt taken advantage of. She reversed her position yet again.

“People like him need to be shutdown, his comments are racist, vile and they are wrong,” she said.

In announcing her resignation on Wednesday, she issued the following statements.

“I profoundly apologize for giving Mr. Allsup a platform to speak at the Northwest Grassroots meeting in July. I consider this a serious mistake in my judgment and I deeply regret that decision.

“Mr. Allsup’s statements, affiliations, and actions are deeply out-of-step with the values of the Republican Party, the Spokane County GOP and our members, as well as my own values.

“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.

“At this point, I do not believe that I can continue as Chair and resign the position effective immediately. It is my sincere hope that our community can continue to build bridges, support our neighbors, and build a more unified community in Spokane and across Eastern Washington.

Wright was replaced with Spokane County Republican Party Central Committee Vice-Chair Isaiah Paine.

He released these statements:

“Our mission has never changed. We will continue to fight for the rights of all people regardless of color, race, ethnicity, gender or political party.”

“This is not a partisan issue. Racism and bigotry have no legitimate place in any political party. That is why I will be at the rally (Thursday) as well all face this challenge together.”

In addressing the Northwest Grassroots organization itself, Sheriff Knezovich said he had spoken out against them for years and doubled down on his position, unsurprised that such a speaker was invited.

“I’m calling on elected officials that support, or supported this group to call them out and acknowledge what they actually are,” he said. “Its time for them to quit snuggling up for more votes and do the right thing. This group is not representative of the Republican party.”

Western States Center, a social justice group based in Oregon, also called out two elected GOP leaders, Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase and Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins, asking for their resignation for attending the meeting. For more information on them click here.

KXLY reached out to both Chase and Higgins.

Chase said he had been unaware of who Allsup was and needed to do more research before reaching a judgment. He said he didn’t find anything in Allsup’s speech at the meeting out of step or controversial.

Higgins also said he didn’t know who Allsup was and said he regularly attends Northwest Grassroots meetings. He didn’t find anything controversial in Allsup’s speech. He said if Western State’s wants him to resign, they can move to Spokane Valley and start a recall, but if they are looking for extremists, they “might want to look in the mirror”. He also said based on what he had heard at the meeting, he didn’t understand why Wright apologized or resigned.

Following Wright’s resignation, protests remained planned as is at 5:30 in front of the Spokane County Courthouse. Groups involved include the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, Spokane Community Against Racism, the City of Spokane Human Rights Commission, Spokane NOW, Families Against Bigotry, FUSE Washington.