McKenna Campaign Staffer Under Fire For Tweet: 'Shut Up and Speak English'

A member of gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna's campaign staff came under fire after The Stranger discovered that she posted derogatory remarks about Asians and the elderly on her personal Twitter account.

Gubernatorial candidate and Bellevue resident Rob McKenna issued a statement that one of his staffers apologized after The Stranger's blog "The Slog" uncovered posts on Twitter that were derogatory toward Asians and the elderly.

According to The Stranger, McKenna staffer Kathlyn Ehl posted in January: "shut up and speak english #asians" and in November: "If it takes you an entire green light to walk in front of my car GET A WHEELCHAIR #toooldtowalk" (punctuation in the original).

While Ehl, a recent graduate of the University of Washington according to her LinkedIn account, has since deleted the two tweets, as well as others from her Twitter account, The Stranger posted the history of her tweets as of Friday before her timeline was edited.

Ehl was hired by McKenna's campaign in April, and according to political blog Publicola, McKenna's campaign Twitter feed encouraged followers to follow her (the post has since been deleted). 

McKenna, the leading Republican in the race for governor and the state Attorney General, issued this statement through his campaign:

The tweets sent by a member of my campaign staff, Kathlyn Ehl, which were reported today were offensive and inappropriate.  I am glad to see that she has apologized for her actions.

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.

What do you think? Youthful indescretion or a campaign faux pas? 

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Peter H July 18, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I think the press is getting a lot of mileage out of a minor story. I've seen this in every online publication relating to Seattle. This is summed up as "Minor staffer made bad judgement tweets years ago" -- is this really such a big deal to warrant all this coverage?
Peter H July 18, 2012 at 06:44 PM
BTW, I thought Patch was a nice hyperlocal site about Redmond. The recent coverage of Derby Days, for example, was awesome. I don't get why this article belongs here. If we want to divide each other and scream about state politics, we can do that on mynw, seattlepi, etc. I value Patch for its cooperative, city-themed tone. Not sure why we need a article trying to stir up Democrat-vs-Republican hatred here.
Caitlin Moran July 18, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Hi Peter, thanks very much for the feedback. Along with our hyperlocal coverage of events like Derby Days, we at Patch are also paying a lot of attention to this year's elections. As the saying goes, we believe all politics is local, especially concerning the campaign of a candidate who may be our state's next governor. However, your skepticism about the importance of this matter is likely a feeling that others share as well, and once again I appreciate you being willing to share your thoughts.


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