Battle lines drawn among Republicans in state House over heated exchange between lawmaker, security

Apr 20, 2022, 6:12 AM | Updated: Apr 21, 2022, 11:03 am
Rep. Robert Sutherland. (Getty Images)...
Rep. Robert Sutherland. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Republican state Rep. Robert Sutherland believes he has more support than ever following a verbal confrontation with a top House security official at the Capitol in March.

Heated exchange over COVID rules between state lawmaker, security leads to conduct probe

Sutherland and the sergeant-at-arms argued as the latter denied Sutherland entrance into the building. The disagreement revolved around whether Sutherland could enter the Columbia room of the Capitol building without a COVID-19 test. Sutherland disputes the claims that he failed to comply to take a test. Expletives were shouted when their argument reached its boiling point.

“My voters love me in this district. I’ve got the exclusive endorsement in this area,” Sutherland told Jason Rantz on KTTH. “So, I don’t anticipate this being a problem. If the press wants to continue to twist the story, then people will see through that and they’re flocking to me — I’m getting more support than I’ve had ever.”

Republican Representatives Paul Harris and Cyndy Jacobsen each donated $100 to Republican Sam Low’s campaign after the incident, who is running against Sutherland in the August primary. The fallout of the incident also led to a formal reprimanding from the state House. He has since been ordered to take “conflict coaching.”

Sutherland stated he was not surprised by Harris and Jacobsen’s decision.

“There’s many kinds of Republicans,” he said. “There’s Republicans who support Republicans and other Republicans who support Democrats. In this case, my peers have decided to support a Republican who endorses Democrats over Republicans, and has supported Democrats in the past. By supporting [Low], they’re supporting Democrats and who am I to tell people who they should or should not support?”

Sutherland continued by blaming the press for twisting the altercation against him.

“If you read the Seattle Times, which said I went down there, and I refused to be tested. That’s just a blatant lie,” he said. “I’m talking to an attorney tomorrow, and we’re gonna discuss defamation from some of these large newspapers.”

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He also believes the media’s manipulation of the story led to Rep. Harris and Jacobsen siding against him.

“I don’t know that they’ve ever heard my version of the story,” he continued. “If they did, they would side with me.”

Sutherland further asserts what the sergeant-at-arms said to him was equivalent of assault.

“He was yelling that I needed to get off the campus. That I wasn’t allowed to be there. I was allowed to be there,” he said. “When I refused to leave, he amped it up. He ramped it up and was getting mad at me. He was cussing. He was telling me I needed to leave. And he actually assaulted me. He made a move to come at me physically. And I stood my ground and I wouldn’t leave.”

Sutherland did apologize for his use of expletives and claims there is no animosity between him and Harris and Jacobsen despite their decision.

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Battle lines drawn among Republicans in state House over heated exchange between lawmaker, security