King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert resigned from her chair and vice-chair positions after she all but ended her own political career by paying for, distributing, and then doubling down on a racist mailer that depicted Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, the only Black person on the council, as a socialist puppet master.
Today, the council introduced two motions; one that would strip Lambert of all her internal and external committee assignments, and one that reassigned the vacancies this left behind. The move would remove Lambert as chair of the Community, Health and Housing Services committee and then put that committee under the purview of the law and justice committee, which Zahilay chairs. Bit of poetic justice there.
Before the vote, Lambert took a point of personal privilege to resign from the posts.
“One lapse in judgement that was insensitive should not be allowed to overshadow 27 years of good service,” Lambert said. “That’s why people don’t want to go into politics, because they don’t want their entire lives opened up to intense scrutiny and criticism. For those of you who have never made an insensitive remark or act: congratulations. For me, I want to get back to doing the business of all the people of King County.”
Everyone voted to approve the motions, even Lambert.
This move essentially renders her powerless on the council except as a voting member.
“Discussing taking me off of committee chairs is clearly not about race, but about political opportunity to damage my reelection campaign,” Lambert said at the council meeting.
Given her less-than-ideal showing in the August primary (she only took 40% of the vote), Lambert may lose the general election to Issaquah Democrat Sarah Perry, and thus become one of the lamest lame ducks in council history. Or maybe the Trump people in the district will see Lambert as a victim of Wokist cancel culture and rally for a Lambert victory — who knows!
Lambert’s racist mailer presents Perry as a “socialist puppet” under the control of Zahilay, who is in the company of Senator Bernie Sanders, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and Vice President Kamala Harris. The three additional politicians have nothing to do with this race and, like Zahilay and Perry, Harris is not a socialist.
"It's not a new strategy to point to the only Black elected official with a foreign-sounding name to fearmonger," Zahilay told KING 5 after the mailer initially drew criticism on Oct. 6.
As accusations of racism mounted, Lambert doubled down at first. Her defense: “I do a lot of work in Africa, so if I had something against him because of his color I wouldn't be doing the work I do in Africa." She used the same line in the past to defend her vote against making Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples’ Day paid holidays.
Unsurprisingly, her work in Africa did not absolve her. All but two of her colleagues condemned the mailer. She lost endorsements from the Seattle Times Editorial Board, the Washington Association of Realtors (who asked her to return their $1,000 campaign contribution), The Seattle Mariners, and long-time colleague Larry Gossett.
After doubling down – perhaps tripling down, at that point – in defense of her mailer on Facebook Friday morning, Lambert suddenly changed her tune and apologized.
“I need to apologize for the harm that the flyer has caused to Councilmember Zahilay, my colleagues, the public I have long worked for and appreciate and to my family,” Lambert wrote. “My dedication and heart are not to hurt, but to serve. This message is certainly not what was intended.”
Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer, the two Republican council members who had not yet called out the mailer, said “It was right of her to issue an apology and it is an important step forward.”
They both voted to approve the two motions that would remove and replace Lambert from leadership positions.
Zahilay was not impressed.
“I don't accept her apology,” Zahilay said. "I don't think it's a genuine apology. As recently as this morning, if you have checked her Facebook, she was doubling down, tripling down, and defending her actions, saying that she, in fact, is the victim of this whole ordeal.”
He added, "This late apology, just a couple hours later, after she was defending herself again, seems like she's doing it because she lost money and endorsements and not because she truly has learned a lesson or is apologetic.”
Lambert said the swift actions of the council to disempower her gave “no time for grace and only retribution.” She accused the council of placing importance on silencing other views.
“I hope that for everyone in politics, you understand what’s going on,” she said.
The Kathy Lambert victimhood tour is set to begin in T-minus 3...2.....1........................