KING 5 asked you which political ads you would like fact-checked, and one of our viewers requested a fact check of a television ad targeting Sheriff John Urquhart’s challenger, Major Mitzi Johanknecht.
The ad paid for by Urquhart’s campaign begins by touting his record noting he fired 22 officers for theft or lying.
“Many fired officers are backing Mitzi Johanknecht,” said the voice over.
A campaign spokesperson named three fired officers supporting Johanknecht, either through social media or donations. Only one of the fired officers made a financial contribution to her campaign.
The ad goes on to say, “On Mitzi’s watch, bad cops illegally sold drugs and ammo on the black market.”
The statement references the high-profile case of former SWAT officer Darrion Holiwell who pleaded guilty to theft and drug charges in 2014.
As a special operations captain, Johanknecht was in charge of the SWAT team at the time, but her campaign says there was no evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the command staff, nor evidence they knew of the crimes being committed.
A spokesman for the Sheriff says Johanknecht was removed as SWAT team captain following the incident, but Johnanknect says she wasn’t given a reason for transfer to a difference division.
Her campaign also notes that she was promoted to Major by Urquhart a year later.
“Kicked out of two jobs; coworkers petitioned to have her removed from a third,” the ad continues.
A sheriff’s employee said the petition referenced dated back to the 1990's and was signed by communications specialists within the 911 center.
The Urquhart campaign says the two jobs noted in the ad refer to her transfer out of SWAT, as well as an incident in Shoreline in 1997. The Seattle Times reported Johanknecht got into trouble for providing comments for a city council candidate’s campaign flier.
The incident led to her transfer to Kenmore, “despite supporters who protested her departure,” according to the Times.
Johnaknecht’s campaign stresses that she’s never been disciplined in her 32-year-career at the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Therefore, KING 5 finds the ad to be misleading. It depicts Johanknecht as a problem employee when her track record of promotions suggests otherwise.
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