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Originally published Friday, October 26, 2012 at 9:52 PM

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Squirming Dems release Ramtha donation after insulting comments

Washington State Democrats decided Friday to return $70,000 in campaign donations from JZ Knight, the founder of the Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, because she had made vulgar comments about Mexicans, Jews, gays and Catholics.

Seattle Times political reporter

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In a reversal, the state Democratic Party announced Friday it will no longer keep $70,000 in donations from JZ Knight, the founder of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, after videos surfaced of the Yelm mystic making offensive, profanity-laced comments about Mexicans, Jews, gays and Catholics.

After resisting calls to return the cash when some videos came to light earlier this week, the party Friday evening announced that Democrats will donate half the Knight money to the campaign for Referendum 74 to legalize gay marriage, and half to the Anti-Defamation League.

"Recently, we've been made aware of comments made by a contributor to the Democratic Party that do not reflect our party's values. While we did not solicit any contributions from JZ Knight, it is important that we make it clear that we view her comments as offensive and do not condone this kind of vitriol," state Democratic Party Dwight Pelz said in a statement.

Knight made her controversial comments in one of her famous sessions in which she claims to channel "Ramtha" — a 35,000-year-old warrior. She founded an 80-acre school in Yelm, Thurston County, in 1988 and has thousands of devotees.

The Democratic Party's about-face came after more videos of Knight were released Friday by The Freedom Foundation, a conservative Olympia think tank.

In one video, recorded during a marathon channeling session last year, Knight went on a profane rant about "the invasion of the Mexicans who just breed like rabbits." In another, from the same event, Knight says that "all gay men were once Catholic women."

That followed earlier videos, distributed by the state Republican Party, in which Knight made offensive comments about Catholics, Jews and others. Republicans had called for the Democratic Party to return the Knight donations but first were met with refusal.

State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur said the Democratic Party made the right decision and called on other Democratic candidates to return any donations from Knight.

A spokesman for Knight did not respond to phone calls and emails Friday. Earlier, the Ramtha school issued a statement claiming the videos had been taken out of context.

Knight has also been a donor to other Democrats, including the campaign of President Obama. Knight attended a pricey fundraiser for the president last September and has posted a photo of herself and her granddaughter meeting Obama on her website.

Federal Election Commission records show Knight has donated more than $45,000 to the Obama campaign and $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee.

An Obama campaign official condemned Knight's comments, but did not indicate whether her donation would be returned: "The Obama campaign rejects this type of hateful language. It has no place in the political discourse. The president obviously does not endorse or embrace every supporter's personal affiliation, action or utterance."

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @Jim_Brunner.

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