Dave Reichert Endorsed By Sheriff Who Said ‘Ex-Wives Should Be Killed’

Dave Reichert candidate

Dave Reichert, who previously served as a congressman and Sheriff of King County, Washington, is now running for governor of the state on the sort of tough-on-crime platform that has become all but mandatory for Republican candidates. His campaign website warns that Washington state is currently “a haven for crime, drugs, homelessness, human trafficking, and other serious problems,” and that “domestic violence continues to rise.” His proposed solution? More cops on the streets, of course.

That position has earned Reichert the support of many law enforcement leaders as he strives to become Washington’s first GOP governor since 1985. Among them is John Nowels, Spokane County Sheriff, who appeared in a campaign video of sheriffs from around the state explaining why they back Reichert. “He’s come from us,” Nowels says in his segment, about a half-minute into the ad. “He’s come from people who work, who just had to rely on their ethics and their morals to get where they are, and to just put their nose to the grindstone, working. Dave’s done it.”

But five years ago, when he was a Spokane County undersheriff, Nowels made shocking comments about the kind of domestic violence that Reichert decries on his website — suggesting that “ex-wives should be killed.” In July 2019, during a phone conversation with a Spokane Valley Precinct assistant, he spoke about a deputy unable to work because his ex-wife, amid a contentious custody battle, had filed a domestic violence protection order against him, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Evidently annoyed at how slowly an investigation into the matter was proceeding, Nowels said of the deputy’s ex-wife, “you know, somebody should just kill her,” per the precinct assistant’s notes on the call. Nowels further expressed the opinion that all ex-wives do is “cause trouble,” according to an Internal Affairs investigation that ultimately saw the undersheriff suspended without pay for a month.

Before he became King County Sheriff in 1997, Reichert spent years as a detective on a task force assembled to catch the notorious and prolific Green River Killer, who was not arrested until 2001. Reichert wrote a book about the manhunt, and, since trading law enforcement for politics in the mid-2000s, has touted his work on the case — though other detectives involved say that he exaggerates his contributions. Reichert currently lists Nowels among 30 Washington state sheriffs to endorse his gubernatorial run on his campaign website.

Reached for comment on the Nowels endorsement, Reichert’s spokesperson relayed the following statement from the candidate: “I just became aware of this [Spokesman-Review] article from 2020 and Sheriff Nowels’ comments. I spoke with the sheriff today and he expressed remorse for his comments, much like he did four years ago. Joking about domestic violence is never acceptable. I grew up in a home with domestic violence, spent my whole career fighting domestic violence, and responded to many domestic violence calls in my 33-year law enforcement career. His comments were wrong and should never be tolerated.”

Reichert’s campaign did not address a question about whether Nowels’ endorsement undermines the candidate’s messaging on crime and domestic violence, given the sheriff’s past comments.

The staffer on the receiving end of Nowels’ 2019 remarks reported them to Spokane Valley Precinct Chief Mark Werner, and, even though she had not personally taken offense at them, Werner warned Nowels against speaking that way in the future. Neither brought up the comments with Internal Affairs; they only came to light four months after the fact, during a deposition Nowels gave in a lawsuit brought against the department by a former deputy fired earlier that year. Once he finished his testimony, which in part addressed that “ex-wives” conversation, Nowels self-reported the incident to Internal Affairs and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who gave him a four-week unpaid suspension — the longest he’d ever imposed while head of the department — in January 2020.

“I hope it made it very clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable and depending on again the facts behind it, you could lose your job,” Knezovich said of the disciplinary action, which deprived Nowels of $12,000 in wages. Before handing down the punishment, Knezovich wrote in a letter to Nowels that his statements were “reprehensible,” the Pacific Northwest Inlander reported.

“I regret that I said it without really understanding the ramifications,” Nowels said when the suspension became public in June 2020. “That’s not in my heart who I am.” Nowels’ inappropriate comments made local news again in 2022 as he ran to replace the retiring Knezovich as Spokane County Sheriff — with his outgoing boss’ endorsement. He won that race and assumed office in 2023.

“The statement I made was hyperbole, and made out of frustration with a situation a deputy was dealing with in his personal life,” Nowels tells Rolling Stone in an email. “Domestic violence is a serious issue in our community, and one I continually work to address with community partners.” Nowels also confirms that he spoke with Reichert about the incident and says the candidate understands “the circumstances” around it. “Dave Reichert and his campaign will make the decision whether to use my endorsement or not,” he adds. “Regardless of their decision, I will still vote for him and support him, as he is the best candidate for the Washington gubernatorial race in 2024.”

Reichert’s video ad featuring a number of sheriffs endorsing him, some of whom recorded themselves in their offices with uniforms and badges visible, also drew rebukes from critics who claimed it violated a Washington state law prohibiting elective officials from using “facilities of a public office or agency” to assist election campaigns or promote ballot measures. His campaign did not respond to a question on the matter.


Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/dave-reichert-governor-endorsement-sheriff-ex-wives-1234997995/

Recommended For You

About the Author: News Reporter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *