Rushing's Rant

The Airway Heights City Council has asked the mayor to resign after posting a racist Facebook message

Rushing's Rant
Young Kwak
Patrick Rushing: "I'll never resign."

The comment, racially-charged as it was, wasn't unusual for the Internet: "Gorilla face Michelle, can't disagree with that. The woman is not attractive except to monkey man Barack. Check out them ears. LOL."

What was unusual was who posted it: Patrick Rushing, mayor of Airway Heights since 2010. His comments, after being forwarded to KHQ, have the rest of the Airway Heights City Council asking Rushing to resign.

Rushing, for his part, has been making controversial Facebook posts for years.

Amid the flood of Sugar Smash and Cookie Jam Facebook game notifications, his Facebook timeline contains jokes about Caitlyn Jenner, lesbian sex and the size of Hillary Clinton's breasts and thighs. He's posted images defending the Confederate flag, attacking "illegals" and calling Al Sharpton a "race-baiter." In a post about the Left Behind movie, he warned that the "second coming of Christ" would show Islamists their "god is the wrong one."

"He's a member of the Muslim Brotherhood," Rushing wrote about Obama in June. "I know, I know the liberals will have a fit over this one."

(If this seems eerily familiar, it should: Earlier this year Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, a former Airway Heights city council member, was under fire over offensive comments his wife had made online.)

Airway Heights Deputy Mayor Kevin Richey says he's been concerned with Rushing's Facebook page for quite some time, but the latest comment put his worries over the top.

"I don't think he's a racist," says Richey. "I think he shows a severe lack of judgment. And there's a difference."

On Facebook, Rushing issued an apology, asking those who he offended for forgiveness.

"I got caught up in the banter between friends and made a poor choice of words," Rushing wrote.

Still, late Monday night, he remained defiant. "I'll never resign," he wrote in a post, noting his biracial granddaughter. "If the residents of Airway Heights don't want me to continue as their mayor, they will vote me out of office."

If Rushing won't resign, Richey says, the city council can sanction him, limiting his ability to travel, attend hearings and issue statements in the name of the city.

It isn't the first problem for the small-town mayor this year. In January, Rushing ran into a different sort of trouble after he rear-ended a driver in his role as a part-time bus driver for the Medical Lake School District and left the scene of the accident. Still, Rushing, who has a reputation for personally helping his constituents, has many defenders.

"I was hired on [at] Fairchild and this man took time out his schedule to help me and my family find a home close to my new job," NAACP member Kitara Johnson wrote on Rushing's Facebook page. "As soon as he read why the statements weren't OK, he immediately apologized and that's what leaders do if they make a mistake or offend someone."

Rushing, normally responsive to calls to his cell phone, did not return requests for comment from the Inlander. "I will no longer participate in interviews without 24-hour notice and prepared questions for my review," Rushing said on Facebook.

Last month, the mayor shared a text image on Facebook saying, "I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient. I will get to you shortly."

"This sounds like me," Rushing added. ♦

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...