McKenna campaign staff member resigns over controversial tweets

SEATTLE -- A campaign staff member of gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna whose tweet recently came under fire has resigned.

The McKenna campaign on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Kathly Ehl, the campaign said in a prepared statement.

Ehl resigned, after apologizing to the campaign's Asian American leaders on a conference call.

"Kathlyn needed to have that dialogue with our grassroots supporters so that she understood the damage that had been done," said Charles McCray, McKenna's Communications Director. "And I think it's important for her to hear what they had to say, and vice versa."

Several dozen protestors, including Asians and Latinos, said the resignation wasn't swift enough.

"Does it take a group conference to admit one was wrong?" wondered Frank Irigon. "It should have been immediate for Rob McKenna to fire rather than to drag it on."

Ehl, a policy assistant to McKenna, had been suspended without pay pending an investigation into her Jan. 25 tweet, which said: "shut up and speak english #asians."

The tweet was deleted shortly after The Stranger first broke the story on Monday; however, a cached version of the website affirmed the tweet had, in fact, been sent out.

Ehl also reportedly tweeted: "If it takes you more than an entire green light to walk in front of my car GET A WHEELCHAIR #toooldtowalk," according to The Stranger. KOMO News could not track down the cached version of this tweet, which The Stranger said was sent out in November 2011.

Ehl has not responded to KOMO's request for an interview. In an email message sent to The Seattle Times, Ehl apologized for the tweets. She said the comments were "harmful" and "offensive," according to the Times.

"Life teaches us difficult lessons, and sometimes at a very young age," said Randy Pepple, McKenna's campaign manager, in a written statement. "My hope is that she will find some benefit from having learned this lesson now, as it will undoubtedly be a long-lasting one."

McCray says the campaign still has "great ties" with the Asian American community.

"Double our efforts to repair our relationship with this community. That's what we're going to do," he said. "I'm confident that we can and that's what we're going to be working on."