Northwest Asian Weekly
On Sunday, July 16, the Seattle Times reported that the Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS) finally released unearthed old records — records previously thought to have been destroyed — in the name of public interest.
The child welfare investigation records indicate that Oregon’s DHS found that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray had sexually abused a foster son, Jeff Simpson, in 1984. At the time, Oregon state officials stated that Murray would never be a foster parent in the state again.
Also at the time, the Multnomah County prosecutor declined to press charges, reportedly due to the fact that Simpson had a troubled personality that made the case difficult to try at the time, not because they found the allegations baseless.
Four men have claimed that Murray sexually abused them as teenagers. Murray’s former foster son, Jeff Simpson, is one of Murray’s accusers.
Publicly, Murray has claimed that the abuse allegations are without merit and are politically motivated. Earlier this year, Murray declined to seek another term as Seattle mayor amid the controversy. Murray maintains that he is innocent of the allegations, as he was never indicted or convicted.
After news of the DHS report broke, one Seattle councilmember, Lorena González, has called on Murray to step down as mayor.
In a public statement, González stated, “While the caseworker’s report is not proof of criminal guilt, the gravity of the materials in the finding and the continued attention to these issues will receive, raise questions about the ability of the mayor, his office, his department heads, and senior management to remain focused on the critical issues facing our city. As a result, I am asking the mayor to consider stepping down as mayor and to work collaboratively with a subcommittee of the city council to craft an executive leadership transition strategy.”
Other councilmembers have been more reticent in their approach to this.
Council President Bruce Harrell said that he is not calling for Murray’s resignation, as Murray is doing his job.
As reported by Crosscut, at a July 17 briefing, Harrell said, “I’m not asking him to step down. I don’t have to justify that for anyone. I make my decisions on what’s in the best interest of the city right now. The question is, is he doing his job?
I haven’t heard any of you say he’s not doing his job every single day. That governs whether he should step down or not. Now, if I see some indication he’s abdicated his responsibility and the people of Seattle are suffering because of that, then we’ll have a conversation. I’m not afraid to ask anyone to step down.”
On July 17, Murray released a statement also. He stated, “I know that today a member of the council has issued a statement calling on me to resign, and warning of action against me if I do not. I continue to believe such a course of action would not be in the city’s best interest. That is why I am not going to resign, and intend to complete the few remaining months of my term as mayor.”
Murray also stated, “Seattle needs steady, focused leadership over the next several months. We have a lot of work to do. Establishing an effective transition between administrations takes months of careful planning and preparation – work that I and my team have already begun. We do not need the sort of abrupt and destabilizing transition that a resignation would create, likely bringing the City’s business to a grinding halt. Council action against me would similarly prevent the City’s business from continuing, only so I can again show these allegations from 30 years remain false.”
The city charter allowed the city council to remove a mayor for neglect of duty or “an offense involving moral turpitude.” According to the charter, if two-thirds of City council members vote to impeach a mayor at a hearing, “the office shall become vacant.”
At which point, the council president would step into the role of mayor. As it is an election year, if he does not resign or is not impeached, Murray’s term will end January 2018.
González is asking that the council convene no later than July 24 on this issue.
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