Supporters of a high-profile Seattle civil rights activist rushed to her defense Friday after a KING 5 investigation raised questions about the activist's former business.
A group of about two dozen people calling itself "The Friends of Harriet Walden" demanded recognition for all her work in the community over the years.
The KING 5 story raised questions about Rev. Walden’s billing of the Medicaid program and why the state of Washington allowed her to continue billing the program for many years.
"They worked hard not to bring in anyone who would say anything favorable about the great work she's done in the community," Seattle Rev. Carl Livingston said of KING 5’s story.
He and others claimed that Rev. Walden was being singled out because she is an African American and because of her work to push for more accountability at the Seattle Police Department.
“This is the destruction of a woman's good name," said Sherry Day, a friend of Rev. Walden.
Rev. Walden did not appear at Friday's event, and she refused on-camera interviews with KING 5 prior to the story's airing.
The investigation showed long-term billing problems with Rev. Walden's former eye-glass business.
The state ordered her to repay $320,000 in improper Medicaid payments she received.
On one day in 2009 alone, documents KING 5 obtained through public records requests showed Rev. Walden billed for eye-glass repairs for 91 different clients in ten separate cities, including Spokane.
Rev. Walden was never charged with a crime, but last week the state filed a lawsuit against her to recover the money.
By phone, Rev. Walden denied any wrongdoing and said her billing troubles were related to "paperwork errors."
She surrendered her optician’s license in 2010 and is no longer is the eye-glass business.