Family Policy Institute of Washington has a Truth Problem
Tea party activist Elizabeth Scott is now a representative of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. FPIW is a local affiliate of Focus on the Family and Family Research Council and is organizing opposition to the marriage equality efforts now underway in Washington. FPIW is going to have trouble maintaining their already fragile Christian facade if they continue to select truth-challenged people like Elizabeth Scott to represent them. Scott created quite a stir a few months ago by responding to a court ruling with a sabre-rattling press release
“Extremists issued multiple death threats to me and my children due to my being publicly questioned about my personal beliefs,” Scott said Monday. “I am greatly concerned for both the safety and the freedom of speech of those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, a definition that Americans have upheld in every state that has put it on the ballot. …Scott added with a chuckle, “I guess when the First Amendment is eliminated, we drop back to the Second.”
The ruling she was responding to was the latest in the infamous Doe v. Reed case. Scott had been a witness for Protect Marriage Washington which was asking for a special exemption from state law in order to keep secret the identities of voters who signed the petitions that put an anti-domestic partnership referendum (R-71) on the 2009 ballot. PMW claimed that petition signers would be subject to harassment if their identities were revealed.
While she did receive a death threat during her failed 2009 legislative campaign, Elizabeth Scott’s linkage of that threat to her heterosexual-only marriage views is bunk. Here is the assessment of her claims by Federal District Court Judge Benjamin Settle that triggered the above press release:
The Everett Herald (a local paper) published an article on Scott, which included the fact that she signed the R-71 petition. The article contained her cell phone number and other contact information; notably, Scott did not receive any calls on her mobile phone regarding R-71.
However, Scott’s family did receive a phone call to its residence and the caller asked for Scott and said “I will kill you and your family,” and then hung up the phone. However, other than speculation, Scott does not attribute to R-71 this death threat or any other incident that she claimed could be considered harassment that occurred before or after the R-71 vote. Additionally, she called the police about the death threat and it was handled without further incident.
The problem for Scott is that her public statements linking death threats to her views on marriage are completely contradicted by her own sworn statements made during her federal court deposition. (Although the deposition is redacted, it can be identified as Elizabeth Scott’s from Judge Settle’s ruling). From the deposition:
Attorney: So there was no indication of why he wanted to kill you and your family.
Yet Scott reiterated her self-contradictory allegation as recently as last week at the anti-marriage-equality community meeting she ran for FPIW. “I received death threats for my stand for ‘one man, one woman’ marriage,” she reportedly said.
Which is more believable, sworn statements made during federal court proceedings, or comments made to the public in an apparent effort to drum up support for an anti-gay campaign?
In addition to the false linkage Scott repeatedly makes between the death threat and its cause, other contradictions exist between Scott’s deposition and her public statements. For example, Scott keeps referring to multiple death threats but she only describes one in her deposition. Further, though she stated in her press release that she’s “greatly concerned” about safety, she admits in her deposition that she never asked the police for assistance in getting information from the phone company on the identity of the threatening phone caller. What could have possibly been more important than following-up with the police to ensure the safety of her family?
Attorney: Did you request any help from the police in getting any legal authority to check into that?
Attorney: Did you ask the police at that point to get the records for you?
Scott: No. …[F]rankly, I was very busy with planning my campaign kickoff for that night, so there were a lot of things that were very high priority. …
Attorney: And after your campaign kickoff, did you ever after that ask the police to go ahead and trace that call for you?
FPIW’s executive director Joseph Backholm is an attorney and has been personally involved in other litigation related to R-71. He should be capable of understanding the problematic nature of Elizabeth Scott’s baseless statements, which were made both before being selected as an FPIW representative as well as while acting as an FPIW representative. FPIW’s stated mission is to “impart a biblical worldview for those committed to Judeo-Christian truths.” When was Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor stricken from the list of core Judeo-Christian truths?