Why not try real solutions?
Spokane could just decide to love its community more. Everyone wants less crime, but leaning on police to do all the work just creates more prisoners. We need to actually invest in our community; in each other.
In the last few months, Lesley Haskell and her husband, Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, have been in the local news due to racist and troubling statements Lesley Haskell made on her Gab account. As detailed in the Inlander, Lesley called a Black woman the N-word and repeatedly referred to herself as a white nationalist. She regularly elaborates on her bigoted and conspiratorial worldview by praising Holocaust deniers, spewing anti-Black invective towards victims of police brutality and white vigilatism, and cheering on the Jan. 6th Capitol insurrectionists. Notably, Lesley Haskell didn’t get to this point overnight. Her escalating social media outbursts have been a subject of concern since her husband served as Deputy Prosecutor back in 2009, not least because she sometimes appeared to be disclosing information about active cases being handled by her husband’s office, including once he took the Prosecutor’s seat.
To be clear: For over a decade, Larry has consistently claimed that his wife’s racist commentary, ideology, and beliefs do not affect him or the office of the County Prosecutor. In his recent apologies for her conduct, he’s focused on her “thoughts and beliefs,” emphasizing that her statements don’t represent his views. But more troublesome than Lesley’s bigoted belief system, and unaddressed by Larry’s apologies, is her years-long track record of backing up her words with actions. Lesley Haskell isn’t just making racist statements; she’s evidently become influential in the world of people who represent similar views. While cheering on her husband’s harsh “law and order” policies towards his most vulnerable constitutents, Lesley seamlessly integrates financial and organizational support for bigoted groups and individuals into her public profile, including some who have engaged in violence. For the people of Spokane County, this pattern of behavior – not just words, thoughts or beliefs – is worth a closer look.
In March of 2018, Lesley co-organized a meet-and-greet rally for a then-fringe US Senate candidate, Joey Gibson, who runs a far-right organization known as Patriot Prayer. At the time, Gibson was best known for leading pro-Trump rallies on the West Coast, which were becoming infamous across the region for assaults and arrests, in part due to a large contingent of Proud Boys, paramilitary groups and white nationalists who regularly attended. Even years before the Capitol insurrection, the Proud Boys were known for their belligerence, whether organizing violent rallies or starting fights with teenage passersby. In fact, Gibson and his entourage were known for little else besides their penchant for conflict, raising questions in the community as to why Lesley organized his visit to Eastern Washington at all. As recently as December of 2021, Lesley shared a photo on her Gab account of herself with five men. “Dear FBI: Here I am, proudly posing for a photo with some Proud Boys. Come and arrest me,” she wrote in the caption. Among the Proud Boys pictured with the law-and-order prosecutor’s spouse? Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who has faced numerous assault charges for his involvement in violent right-wing protests.
A similar pattern is noticeable when it comes to Lesley Haskell’s support of Matt Shea. While the public discussion has focused on her statements, her loyalty to Shea also extended to financial support. Her support of his legislative career and his shady paramilitary affiliations continued long after the extent of his troubling behind-the-scenes attempts to undermine community safety had started to become clear. Lesley and Larry Haskell both accompanied Shea to a Liberty State fundraiser in 2019, after the Washington State Legislature had begun its investigation into Shea. At this same gala, Shea’s legislative assistant Rene’ Holaday declared that our community had only two options for the future: “It’s either going to be bloodshed or Liberty State.” Holaday was fired from her legislative job in the wake of these comments. While former Shea supporters took the opportunity to show up and condemn his conduct at the event, Lesley and Larry remained quiet.
While Larry Haskell, in recent media and press releases, has taken every opportunity to distance himself from Lesley’s comments, Lesley constantly involves Larry and his office in her commentary. Lesley boasts that her Spokane County Prosecutor husband is “the last line of conservative armor that the County has” while saying that “Spokane has gone to shit.” Since Lesely captured her first headline for her internet behavior back in 2009, she has continued to publicly spew slurs and discriminatory rhetoric. But what’s worse, her organizing and fundraising show that she is willing to act on those words.
What happens when Lesley decides to act on her social media claim that “I will not suffer as long as I have my Glocks, Rugers, S&Ws, Beretta, Mossbers, etc. Bring it on, we can easily take less than 10% of the U.S. population (in) a race war”? What happens to the people of Spokane County when these dangerous messages come from the same household as the prosecutor, who has the final say in how local people are treated under the law? This racism hits too close to home. It’s way past time to vote Larry Haskell out of office.