–First published on July 4, 2014 in Watchdog Wire –
Third in a Series on RSE International –
Democratic Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero withheld critical evidence from New Zealand citizen journalist David McCarthy’s defense in JZK/JZ Knight v McCarthy.
Other Thurston County officials did not respond to McCarthy’s requests for information related to his defense, as well.
Romero’s adviser Steve Klein also withheld evidence needed by McCarthy for his defense.
David McCarthy has extensively researched and reported on RSE International.
JZ Knight donated over $60,000 to the Democratic Party and candidates in 2012. She was Sandra Romero’s largest 2012 campaign contributor.
On October 18, 2012, former RSE student Virginia Coverdale released a 2:31 minute YouTube video showing JZ Knight’s profane rant against Catholics and Jews at an eleven hour 2012 event at RSE.
Virginia Coverdale’s video also showed footage of Sandra Romero’s visit to RSE in September 2012, after she had been repeatedly told about illegal acts and dangers that occurred there.
Coverdale had testified three times before Sandra Romero and the other Thurston County Commissioners about these issues before Romero’s visit to RSE.
JZ Knight never intended for the eleven-hour video to be seen by the public. It was livestreamed only to her RSE students who had signed a secrecy contract. It leaked out.
Romero initially defended JZ Knight after the release of that video and refused to return Knight’s donation, telling Seattle’s KING TV that Knight was “a member of the community,” who donated to local schools and fire department.
In Seattle’s KING 5 TV report on Coverdale’s video, Romero stated that she hadn’t seen the video and didn’t intend to see it, even though it exposed serious problems in Thurston County.
In Seattle’s KIRO 7 TV report on Coverdale’s video, Romero stated that she “didn’t know the context” of Knight’s profane ranting against Catholics and Jews. She reiterated that she intended to keep Knight’s campaign contribution.
Because Romero and other Democrats had echoed Knight’s statement that the Coverdale video was edited to take her words out of context, New Zealand citizen journalist David McCarthy released a longer video which contained the full, unedited Catholic hate rant.
McCarthy stated that he wanted to prove that Knight’s bigoted words were not taken out of context, as Knight and her defenders had claimed.
McCarthy’s video also showed JZ Knight berating actress Linda Evans for taking financial advice from a “f-ing Jew,” and showed JZ Knight making a fraudulent claim that 3M sought advice from her (warning – profanity).
After seeing McCarthy’s video, Romero reversed her previous statements, and said she would give Knight’s donation to charity.
Romero said of McCarthy’s video in the October 30, 2012 Olympian:
Unlike the other videos that were heavily edited, spliced and taken out of context this most recent one appeared to be undoctored. I am appalled by Ms. Knight’s outrageous anti-Mexican, anti-Catholic raging. These vile, racist, and divisive comments against responsible and caring people have no place in Thurston County, or anywhere else. I am particularly stunned by these anti-human rights comments from her, because of her otherwise very positive record of supporting scholarships for students in the Yelm area, her support for positive environmental organizations and policies, her support of local social service agencies and her significant contributions to the economy in southeast Thurston County. However, these hateful comments are the complete opposite of everything I stand for. I denounce them. I condemn them.
Romero’s Thurston County Democrats have once again reversed their opinion of JZ Knight, following Knight’s $65,000 donation earlier this year. They are now back to defending her as one of their own.
JZ Knight successfully sued Virginia Coverdale in Thurston County Superior Court for breaching her 2007 RSE secrecy contract. Coverdale is appealing that decision before the Washington State Supreme Court.
JZ Knight also sued David McCarthy in New Zealand for breach of her1993 secrecy contract and copyright infringement, after the release of his October 2012 video that caused Sandra Romero to condemn JZ Knight and give away her campaign donation. McCarthy had attended RSE for about six years, beginning in the late 1980s.
JZ Knight’s contract that McCarthy “breached” turned out to be a fake.
Romero Withheld Proof from McCarthy Needed for His Defense Against JZ Knight
To defend against copyright infringement, McCarthy needed to prove that his video complied with New Zealand’s fair use law for news reporting.
McCarthy’s defense hinged on Sandra Romero’s October 30, 2012 statement to the Olympian, that she had condemned JZ Knight and given away Knight’s campaign donation as a result of seeing McCarthy’s video.
For Romero’s Olympian statements to be admissible for David McCarthy’s defense, McCarthy needed Romero to verify, in one sentence, that those were indeed her words. The newspaper report was not sufficient evidence for the New Zealand court.
McCarthy also needed proof from Romero that she had actually given Knight’s money to charity, as she had stated in the Olympian report.
Without Romero’s proof, McCarthy’s attorneys advised him that he could not defend himself as a citizen journalist against copyright infringement.
In February 2014, JZ Knight gave $50,000 to the Thurston County Democrats.
In March 2014, JZ Knight gave $15,000 to the Thurston County Democrats.
On March 31, 2014, David McCarthy requested the proof from Democrat Sandra Romero that he needed to defend himself against JZ Knight for copyright infringement in New Zealand.
Romero did not respond to McCarthy’s request.
Other Thurston County officials did not respond to McCarthy’s information requests on additional issues relating to his defense.
David McCarthy was forced to settle with JZ Knight, without his day in court. He had to agree to destroy all his videos and evidence against her.
McCarthy lost nearly a year’s worth of income because of the lawsuit. He is left with a pile of legal bills. His health was shattered by the year-long ordeal.
Representing the Thurston County Democrats, including Sandra Romero, chairman Roger Erskine stated:
“JZ Knight is a very good strong Democrat, and she totally supports our platform and our goals, and I think that’s good enough.”