Things seemed to be going well for Washington State Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. On top of receiving several endorsements for the job he's eying in November (including an endorsement a few weeks ago from the Seattle Times), McKenna has maintained his lead (however slight) in the most recent Elway Poll, garnering 42 percent support compared to Democratic opponent Jay Inslee's 40 percent.
As was reported Monday, Rob McKenna for Governor campaign staffer Kathlyn Ehl busted out multiple tweets on her personal Twitter page that were borderline racist and negative toward the elderly, like:
About two hours after the news hit, an update showed that the original tweets on Ehl's page had been taken down, as well as dozens of other tweets, lowering her total tweet count from 213 to 176. The McKenna campaign also immediately responded by removing its staff list that included each employee's Twitter handle.
Ehl, whose Twitter page mostly contains inane tweets relaying campaign information or supporting McKenna, is officially a Policy Assistant for the campaign. Along with reporting to the Policy Director, Ehl's LinkedIn account describes her primary duties on the job as:
Preparing and gathering research materials, monitoring the media, and providing rapid responses to a wide variety of policy issues as they arise.
Before taking on this role, the 2012 University of Washington graduate completed several different internships, including being a research assistant at the Washington Policy Center, an intake specialist at the Legal Action Center, and a research intern at the King County Community Corrections Division.
Interestingly enough, the campaign (@McKennaCampaign) encouraged supporters to follow Ehl and other campaign staffers on Twitter in a post this past Friday. And while the campaign may not have known of Ehl's questionable Tweets, given that most came before she started working for McKenna, it's certainly a strange move, especially considering the post asked people to follow three staffers who have private Twitter accounts, meaning non-followers cannot see their material.
On Monday afternoon, McKenna released a statement apologizing for Ehl's tweets which he considered "offensive and inappropriate." In the statement, McKenna noted:
The fact that she made the comments before joining my campaign does not make them any less hurtful to Asian Americans and the elderly. They were insensitive and wrong regardless of their context.
She has done the right thing by apologizing. I am hopeful that she has learned a humbling lesson that will give her greater perspective about having charity in her heart when considering the challenges faced by others.
In regards to the apology, it's been reported that Ehl sent an e-mail to the Seattle Times Monday evening apologizing for her tweets, also noting she was sorry for hurting individuals with her statements. Previously Ehl had refused to return inquiries from local news stations.
This is not the first time employees of Washington state politicians have gotten in trouble on social media. In December, Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington's 2nd Congressional District fired three staffers in his D.C. office for inappropriate tweeting, including tweets about drinking on the job.
Which, compared to Ehl's Twitter faux pas, looks downright tame.