Bruce Harrell faces heat for unmasked fundraiser, last-minute threat to withdraw from debate

Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell came under fire over the weekend, after photos surfaced of a large indoor fundraiser where few if any attendees appeared to be wearing masks.

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Fundraising Reports first came from Erica Barnett from Publicola, who cited several photos and videos from the event held at Seattle’s China Harbor restaurant. In these photos and videos – many of which have also been posted publicly on social media platforms – a large majority of attendees can be seen without a mask at various times throughout the event.

Current King County regulations require masks to be worn by all participants for large indoor events, regardless of their immunization status. Those who actively eat or drink can do so without covering their faces, although several photos from Harrell’s fundraiser show unmasked participants standing and socializing without food or drink.

Harrell later claimed in a statement to the Seattle Times that he only removed his mask “for meals and brief intervals for photos with friends and community leaders,” while acknowledging that he ” also included[s] that people in public life will and should be held to high standards. “

During a town hall debate on Sunday, he further clarified that his campaign was not directly responsible for organizing the fundraiser itself, but that the organizers were authorized by the organizers to remove their masks. to eat and take pictures.

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Another controversy arose around Sunday’s debate – which Barnett was originally tagged to help moderate – when Barnett revealed that Harrell had threatened to withdraw from the event if she was not replaced as moderator.

Harrell’s opponent Lorena Gonzalez noted during the debate that both candidates were aware of Barnett’s status as moderator for months until Sunday. Harrell did not elaborate on why he raised objections as late as he did, stating only that “the question was asked, why was she the person hosting us?”

Barnett said later that she believed Harrell threatened to withdraw from the event because of her reporting on the unmasked fundraiser, which took place two days before Sunday’s forum.

“I think Harrell probably decided to withdraw from this forum at the last minute, massively disturbing his hosts, because of this report; it’s either purely out of retaliation or out of fear that I would ask about any of these stories, ”she tweeted.

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