‘Consider every option’: State GOP leader addresses Semi Bird endorsement

Jun 4, 2024, 5:56 PM

Image: A group of people in attendance at the Washington State Republican Party 2024 Convention hol...

A group of people in attendance at the Washington State Republican Party 2024 Convention hold up signs supporting Semi Bird as the gubernatorial candidate they wish to endorse. (Photo provided by the Semi Bird for Governor campaign)

(Photo provided by the Semi Bird for Governor campaign)

The head of the Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) is saying its leadership is looking at the latest allegations their endorsed candidate for governor, Semi Bird, committed fraud by engaging in “stolen valor.”

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a reprimand to Bird, with a commanding officer stating that Bird perpetuated “fraud” against the United States to advance his career.

First reported by Jason Rantz of “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, the investigation follows accusations by the U.S. Army and two members of the Green Berets that Bird engaged in stolen valor by misrepresenting his actions during a firefight in the Iraq war.

Rantz exclusive: Semi Bird reprimanded for fraud against US Army, after ‘stolen valor’ claims

State Republican Party Chairman Jim Walsh of Aberdeen told KIRO Newsradio the party is looking into the reprimand and accusations and has “not yet” decided about rescinding the party’s endorsement of Bird.

“We are trying to find out what can be verified and what can be refuted. I mean, this issue really is one that Mr. Bird has to address,” Walsh says. “This is a matter of trust.”

Walsh added he wants to give Bird an opportunity to discuss the circumstances surrounding what he has been accused of doing.

“We want to give Bird time to articulate what happened and explain it. Bird has to talk to the people in a way that makes his position clear and understandable. So, we’re going to give him time to do this,” Walsh continued.

Walsh finds himself in a precarious situation following Bird’s endorsement by 70% of the roughly 1,800 delegates who attended the party’s convention in Spokane in April.

Former U.S. Rep. and fellow gubernatorial candidate Dave Reichert never attended the convention but has received the endorsement of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington.

Previous coverage: Semi Bird wins endorsement for governor from Washington GOP

The WSRP bylaws adopted in January 2023 do not mention the rescinding a convention endorsement of a candidate.

However, the party did provide an FAQ about endorsements to delegates during the convention. It also does not mention any procedure for withdrawing a candidate’s endorsement. (A PDF of the party’s endorsement process FAQ can be seen here.)

It does say the party will give its full breadth of support to whoever the convention endorses.

“Following an endorsement at the State Convention, candidates will receive the full and exclusive support, resources, and infrastructure of the Washington State Republican Party and its partnered organizations for their campaign,” the FAQ document reads.

Earlier coverage from Matt Markovich: Washington GOP faces internal feud over endorsements

“There’s not a clear mechanism to rescind endorsements. And I’m not a big believer in that anyway,” Walsh says. “I think rescinding an endorsement sometimes just draws the issue farther into the light, and I don’t know if it resolves anything or not.”

He says the party will “consider every option,” including rescinding the endorsement.

“It would be complicated. In theory, the party could do some kind of suspension of rules or modification of rules. But it’s messy. There’s not a clear mechanism to do it.”

Bird has denied he engaged in stolen valor, and there’s confusing information being made available to the public.

“People accusing me of stolen valor, no, I was never ever reprimanded for something like that,” Bird told KTTH.

Bird says he’s not going to quit the race for governor and had harsh words for Democrats who oppose him.

“I’m not going to get off the ballot. They’ve already tried to character assassinate me. This is disgusting. This is a level of evil,” Bird said.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, or email him here.

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