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Report: Ed Murray’s spokesperson secretly worked against him

M. Lorena Gonzalez. (AP file Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray attempted to salvage his image amid a sex abuse scandal last year, text messages show that an official working closely with him was secretly helping to oust him.

“Seriously, who wants a mayor that CPS says sexually abused a minor and should never be put in that position again? It’s astounding that Ed has had a 20-year career in elected office,” Jeff Reading wrote Seattle Councilmember Lorena González in a July text message.

RELATED: Why Seattle settled Murray case

In a special Seattle Times report, text messages and emails reveal that Reading, Murray’s spokesperson, was in contact with Councilmember González as the mayor faced multiple allegations of sexually abusing minors. The council member called for Murray’s resignation in August, shortly before a fifth man — Murray’s own cousin — came forth with another allegation of abuse. Murray resigned from office in September.

Reading encouraged González to “be as bold” as she could be in the lead up to her call for resignation. The Times reports:

Behind Murray’s back, Reading cited the story (about Jeff Simpson) and urged González in a series of text messages to correct ‘an accident of history’ and get ‘the abuser out of office.’

That’s not all that the messages reveal. Reading was with Murray in 2012 when the then-senator was considering a run for Seattle mayor. Campaign organizers and consultants considered how the mayoral candidate could respond to potential allegations. It was known then that he could face allegations of child abuse — particularity from his former foster son, Jeff Simpson. Murray reportedly said he kept records that painted Simpson as “a manipulative criminal.” Murray noted that Oregon officials opted not to charge him with any crimes after authorities banned him from having a foster son ever again — this followed allegations that Murray molested Simpson while under his care. They also discussed how media previously refused to run stories about such allegations.

Other text messages

González told Murray she planned to ask for his resignation before she made her move. Murray pleaded with her, saying how difficult the situation had been for him. But González also began to get messages from Reading, Murray’s personal spokesperson. The Times notes that Reading was a “confidant of Murray’s for more than a decade.” Yet Reading sent text messages stating that “It’s astounding that Ed has had a 20 year career in elected office,” and that the Child Protective Services reports from Oregon should have disqualified him from office.

Reading told the Times that he was no longer under any contract with Murray when the text messages were sent.

González’s texts also reveal that Murray attempted to gain favor with the council as the allegations continued, writing: “Ed worked Bruce [Harrell], Sally [Bagshaw] and Debora [Juarez] pretty hard yesterday.”

Text messages from Councilmember Bagshaw paint a different picture, however. She was messaging with Mike Fong, Murray’s chief of staff, who was trying to “put some brakes on what was starting to look like a runaway train.” Bagshaw assured him that the council would not likely support González’s call for the mayor’s resignation (only Councilmember Kshama Sawant joined her).

Bagshaw texted: “Shame on those who want a political witch hunt for their own political gain.”

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