At the heart of this story is really a David and Goliath battle. On one hand you have a long-time multi-million dollar for-profit operation oriented around Ramtha – which has been able to convince thousands of people to pay millions of dollars to attend or view marathon sessions of JZ Knight/Ramtha’s drunken diatribes against almost every religious, ethnic, and other group in existence. This entity has hired prestigious, high-priced attorneys to suppress any and all additional exposure of the practices and methods that they employ to convince people to give them money. Ramtha has a huge compound in Yelm. Against this, you have a former student – in this case a single mom just trying to get by and expose what she believes to be corrupt practices and collusion between Ramtha and local government entities. She fits the classic example of the lone whistleblower and activist willing to speak truth to power and question authority. How many of us would be willing to fight a battle like this?
Here is the latest update on what can only be called the strangest political story in recent Washington State history, and I can’t imagine there are many that compare elsewhere around the country.
What is starting to be called “Ramthagate” by many people following the political scene in Washington State, has now taken a very strange turn in the courtroom. While you can get the complete background on this story here, a quick summary is as follows:
In late August I posted up this post on the Freedom Foundation website trying to encourage citizen activists to use the resources at the public disclosure commission in order to better learn who funds political candidates in Washington State. It seemed useful to make what could otherwise be a dry and boring process interesting by showing the cast of characters who were funding some local Thurston County Commissioner races.
I pointed out that Ramtha, among other donors was the largest political donor to the incumbent Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero’s campaign along with others. “Ramtha” is the 35000 year-old warrior spirit channeled by JZ Knight at her compound in Yelm, Washington. By itself, this post was pretty benign, and I wouldn’t have thought too much about it. However, it lead to large numbers of former Ramtha students to start exposing more information about how JZ/Ramtha has been attempting to purchase political influence and cover up various wrongdoings at the compound.
At the Freedom Foundation, we are interested in exposing cronyism, and it does appear that the Thurston County Commissioners, who have been known for very harsh and aggressive land-use and property-rights restrictions, were giving the Ramtha compound unequal treatment. We are always interested in this type of political/government corruption.
The former members of the Ramtha school, who come from all over the world, had been releasing a lot of these videos from JZ, but when local political candidates Commissioner Romero and Bruce Lachney (2nd District candidate for State Senate) decided to attend a candidates forum at the compound, there was a significant increase in the attention both to the Ramtha compound and to the politicians who were supported by Ramtha.
As reviews of the PDC website and Federal Campaign filing information became more well known, people began to discover just how much Ramtha/JZ has been donating to various the Washington State Democrat Party (and the Democrat Party in other states and nationally) and candidates including Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero, State Senate Candidate Bruce Lachney, Congressional Candidate Denny Heck, Justice Susan Owens, The Washington State Democrat Party, and Barack Obama’s Victory Fund. As more toxic videos began to be released, many of these political candidates and the Washington State Democrat Party began to distance themselves from Ramtha and decided to donate the funds to other causes. Still hanging onto these funds are President Barack Obama’s campaign and Justice Susan Owens. This also led to a flurry of press releases from the Republican Party, the Democrat Party, and from various impacted candidates.
Now, this situation has become even stranger as Ramtha has hired attorneys from prestigious law firms and was able to obtain a temporary restraining order to prevent former students of Ramtha from releasing any more videos that might put these very public videos into context today.
I attended this hearing, and it basically became an argument between the Ramtha attorneys and Sean Newman, the attorney for Virginia Coverdale – the former Ramtha student in this case. On one side the Ramtha attorneys were concerned about the release of any more videos which would further expose the methods and techniques of Ramtha’s teachings. On the other hand Newman argued that Virginia Coverdale was a whistleblower attempting to expose public safety problems, fraud, and other possible illegal activity at the Ramtha compound. At least one Seattle television station was there as well as a reporter from the Olympian. The Olympian’s article is posted here.
To add to the surreal nature of this court hearing – a member of JZ’s Ramtha School was taking photos and videos of the audience members who came to listen and observe at the hearing. It isn’t clear if this was an effort to intimidate other students from coming forward, or an effort to identify who might be supporting the defendant. Regardless, it is clear that this bizarre saga will continue for some time now and is unlikely to end with either the results of this election, or the results of this court case. What other videos could possibly be worse? I’m sure that only time will tell, and Ramthagate continues to grow.