Last Wednesday night, I received the shock of my life when I learned what all of Seattle would read about the next day: an anonymous person is accusing me of terrible acts that allegedly occurred thirty years ago.
I have denied this accusation, and will continue to do so. It is simply not true.
To be clear, I will remain focused on running the city and will continue building upon the many accomplishments we have achieved together during my time as mayor, including reforming the police department, building more affordable housing, raising the minimum wage, closing racial disparities in our public schools, addressing homelessness, and so much more.
I will not let any unfounded accusation upend my administration.
But I think it’s important for the public to understand how this unfounded accusation was given a public airing in the first place. The Seattle Times wonders in an editorial how much voters must continue to endure. But what the Times refers to as “sordid theater” all could have been avoided, not coincidentally, by the Seattle Times itself.
Assume for the sake of argument that the accuser is not telling the truth. Under this assumption, I have been deeply wronged – and that matters to me. But how we got to this point, where a sitting mayor must now publicly defend himself against something so reprehensible but untrue and prove his innocence – that matters to our democracy.
By way of background, the Seattle Times called me the night before it was set to publish. The Times shared some details of the accusation – although not the filing itself – only hours before the story was printed online. To this day, the identity of the accuser is unknown to me. I had no opportunity to present the Seattle Times with any information or evidence that might refute the accusation made against me, or to demonstrate that the story was verifiably false and that is should not, could not be printed.
I have a deep respect for the press, and understand the pressures to break the news when an explosive claim like this is made – but in this case, this imperative was not sufficiently balanced with the truth. Troublingly, the Seattle Times made the editorial decision to lower the standard of proof. Instead of seeking to verify – with evidence – the unsubstantiated accusation, it was enough only that the accusation was made.
The Seattle Times notes that it investigated an earlier accusation against me made in 2008 and found it without merit, but changed its mind in light of the new accusation.
Let’s explore that for a moment.
The first accuser attempted to take his accusation public only after he sought payment from me. He has a history of making false allegations against other guardian figures. And, most importantly, law enforcement had long ago investigated and declined to prosecute.
Additionally, his extensive criminal history is very relevant. I would never suggest that those with criminal histories cannot be victims of abuse. Rather, his criminal history proves he cannot be trusted. He has been convicted of numerous crimes of dishonesty, including identity theft, fraud, false emergency reporting and forgery, in addition to numerous convictions related to robbery, theft, unlawful use of weapons, delivery of controlled substances, criminal conspiracy and even attempted kidnapping.
The Seattle Times rightly rejected his accusation at the time.
In 2012, the accuser tried to bring his claims forward again as I was leading the fight for marriage equality – an important detail, for reasons which will become clear shortly. The Seattle Times and other media outlets rejected these claims then too.
So why is all this important? Because the Seattle Times reports that the new and old accuser claim not to be associated with each other. This is a crucial point. Because if they are associated with each other, then there are not actually two independent accusations being made, but rather one already discredited accusation being reiterated.
Salaciously, both accusers provided the same description about distinguishing marks related to my private anatomy. Their accusations against me rest upon their being correct about this description, because unlike my phone number or address, these details are not readily publicly available.
This week, I proved this description categorically false.
It brought me no great joy to do so in a public forum, but the Seattle Times did not grant me the opportunity to provide such a critical piece of evidence before it printed its story. Not only does this evidence show that the accusers have fabricated their claims against me, but I believe it shows they have coordinated with each other.
Coordination implies motivation, and I believe the motivation is political. This accusation, after all, is a hateful, homophobic stereotype brought to life.
Here’s what I know:
Since 2008, the virulently bigoted Faith & Freedom Network has actively opposed my work to champion LGBTQ rights, and has openly resented my successful effort to pass the civil rights bill in 2008 and marriage equality in 2012. Since 2008, Gary Randall, its president and founder, has written about me on his blog (paid for by the Faith & Freedom Network PAC) more than 120 times. Just this week Randall admitted that he personally pitched the previous accusations against me to the Seattle Times and other legislators in 2008. He attacked me relentlessly during the marriage equality debate in 2012, and wrote about the accusations against me then.
Fast forward to 2017. Another civil rights effort that I am championing – this one regarding equal rights for transgender individuals – is under assault from the far right. An individual named Jack Connelly and his wife have contributed $50,000 to the "Just Want Privacy" campaign opposing basic restroom rights for transgender people. And Connelly’s law firm is the very same firm that has now brought forward the lawsuit against me. Indeed, the accuser’s primary attorney has admitted in the press that his partner holds firm anti-LGTBQ positions – positions which led me as a senator and chair of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee to refuse to support Connelly when ran for the state Senate in 2012.
These are not coincidences. Given the involvement of right wing organizations, the LGBTQ community should be extremely concerned, and I will continue to explore the connections between my accusers, anti-LGBTQ groups and each other. It is also not a coincidence that the lawsuit was timed to be filed just weeks before the campaign filing deadline, with the opposing counsel attempting to rush to depose me before the deadline as well. In the legal filing, the accuser admits that he seeks to remove me as mayor.
This is the agenda that the Seattle Times’ eagerness to break a story has furthered.
But not only did The Seattle Times rush to publish a damaging but untrue and unsubstantiated story, it rushed to judgement only six days later by calling on me not to run for re-election based on its own damaging but untrue and unsubstantiated story. This effort of self-fulfilling prophesy sets a reckless precedent. Not a single community leader has made a similar statement, electing instead to let the democratic and judicial process work. It is extremely unorthodox for a newspaper to get out in front of the community and the process in an attempt to influence an outcome like this.
Again, assume for the sake of argument that my accuser is not telling the truth.
What has been the cost to our city?
Ed Murray is the 53rd Mayor of Seattle.
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