As he faces allegations of sexual assault, a claim that he offered to share an accuser's medical records, and another claim that he improperly shared his second accuser's personnel records, Sheriff John Urquhart has lost several endorsers of his bid for re-election.
Seattle City Council members Lorena González and Sally Bagshaw tell The Stranger they have withdrawn their endorsements of Urquhart. González called Urquhart's alleged conduct "unethical and dangerous." Urquhart denies the allegations of assault and says he did not inappropriately disclose information about his accusers.
In a text message Wednesday, González said: "While I had initially offered my support to Sheriff Urquhart for his re-election based on his support for immigrant and refugee communities, recent revelations involving his conduct during this campaign—particularly the offer to release his [accuser's] medical records as a way to discredit her—are both unethical and dangerous, especially for our county's top law enforcement officer. As a longtime civil rights and employment law attorney, I cannot accept these tactics in any workplace. The race for Sheriff is important and I expect more from someone who seeks to be the top law enforcement officer in our County."
González said she does not plan to endorse Urquhart's opponent Mitzi Johanknecht. González was the first city council member to call on former mayor Ed Murray to consider resigning after allegations of sexual abuse. Only one other council member joined her in that call.
Washington State Representative Noel Frame has also withdrawn her endorsement. “I’m exhausted, that’s why," Frame said in a text message Wednesday. "I’m disappointed and frankly hurt by John and other male elected officials who make such poor decisions. It’s frustrating to put my name behind these men because of their strong policy records, only to have their credibility and good work undermined by poor personal decisions and behavior. Enough already.”
“All that said," Frame added, "I’m optimistic this week because of so many people speaking out. Let this be a lesson that this type of behavior is not going to go unchecked anymore."
Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) confirmed late Wednesday he has also withdrawn his endorsement. "I am out of patience for accused harassers questioning the credibility of their accusers, and if true these latest reports are a particularly egregious example of that," Fitzgibbon told The Stranger. State legislator Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island) confirmed to The Stranger Thursday afternoon he was not comfortable continuing his endorsement of Urquhart, and that he told the sheriff so Thursday morning.
State Senate minority leader Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) also said on Thursday afternoon that she had notified the sheriff's campaign that she was rescinding her endorsement. "With the allegations coming forward about the potential release, or threat of release, of medical records and just in general with the new allegations coming forward, at this point in time I feel more comfortable rescinding my endorsement," Nelson said.
State Senator Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) said Thursday evening by email: "In light of the continued allegations against Sheriff Urquhart, I have decided to rescind my endorsement at this time. My career as an employment discrimination attorney has been primarily devoted to helping women who have been sexually assaulted or discriminated against in the workplace. I believe it is never okay to go after the victim."
State Senator David Frockt (D-Seattle) said Friday he has requested that the Urquhart campaign remove him from the endorsements list.
A spokesperson for Washington Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib confirmed that he too had withdrawn his endorsement.
King County Council members Joe McDermott and Rod Dembowski said Wednesday they have withdrawn their endorsements. Dembowski said he does not plan to endorse another candidate. County council member Larry Gossett withdrew his support Thursday and said, "The continuous string of allegations against him raise serious questions about his integrity, honesty and fitness for such a high leadership role in our government. Therefore, I no longer in good consciousness can remain as one of his pre-election supporters."
King County Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles said she is considering whether to withdraw her endorsement. “I have high regard for Sheriff Urquhart's performance in his official capacities,” Kohl-Welles said in an email Wednesday afternoon. “However, I'm disturbed by how he has handled sexual assault claims filed against him. I think it's also important for due process to go forward and to not subscribe automatically to all the charges being communicated in the media. I will be considering whether to withdraw my endorsement in the next day or two.”
On Thursday afternoon, a campaign consultant for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes confirmed that he had dropped his endorsement, too.
During a debate Tuesday, both mayoral candidates, Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon, said they're voting for Johanknecht. (That debate took place before the Seattle Times reported on the most recent allegations against Urquhart.)
The statewide progressive organization Fuse has removed Urquhart from its "Progressive Voters Guide." The guide previously included recommendations for both Urquhart and his opponent. The recommendation now reads: "We expect our leaders in law enforcement to uphold the highest ethical standards and maintain the trust of the community they are sworn to protect. For this reason, we cannot recommend Urquhart and believe Johanknecht is the best choice in this race."
By Friday, Urquhart had removed the list of endorsers from his website.
This post has been updated with new information.