Jim West

Claims to fame: Former mayor, Spokane, Washington (2003-2005); former U.S. Army paratrooper, 82nd Airborne; former police officer; former deputy sheriff; former Washington state legislator (1982-2003); Rotary member; Boy Scout leader; anti-gay Republican; closet homosexual; chatroom patsy; chickenhawk; accused child molester; careless idiot

Moral apex: Actively working against equal rights for his fellow gay and lesbian Americans, abusing his position of power to chat up potential booty calls, then getting busted coming on to someone he thought was barely-legal gay male in a chatroom sting at Gay.com.

How Jim West was the ultimate anti-gay closet gay: The Spokesman-Review runs down the long laundry list of West’s horrible record of anti-gay (and anti-human rights) votes.

“I think they only identified maybe five votes over a 20-year career and tried to make that out as a pattern,” West would later tell PBS Frontline, in its documentary, A Hidden Life. “That’s a pretty thin pattern, if it is a pattern at all.”

Later, West backtracked even further:

PBS: It does seem that you consistently took a position in the Legislature —

West: Five bills in 20 years.

PBS: In all of them, though, you signed —

West: Five bills. No, no, no, no. I didn’t sign them. I don’t know that I signed any of those other bills that they mentioned. They didn’t say I signed them … I voted for them. Didn’t sponsor them, wasn’t an advocate for them. It was not me pushing that agenda.

PBS: Why did you vote for them?

West: Why did I vote for them? You’re talking about specific pieces of legislation that I can’t recall, and if I didn’t have them before me I couldn’t tell you exactly why I voted for them. But I’m guessing on whole that I voted for them because they advanced the agenda that I didn’t agree with, that my constituents knew I didn’t agree with. …

Certainly if I had sponsored that and if that was my agenda, I would have sponsored it every single year and worked hard to — I was the majority leader. I could have sponsored anything and gotten it through the Legislature, just about. So I would have sponsored that if that’s really what I was about. …

What West was “really about” was this: He was a closeted gay man who shunned — nay, punished — the very community that would have welcomed him with open arms — not an uncommon trait among closet cases who believe they’re too old, too ugly, or too whatever to be accepted. As West said in the course of various online chat sessions:

“It’s just that the openly gay guys are a little over the top for me. I don’t really like the in-your-face attitude some guys have. And the massive political agenda either. I say live and let live. Most gay guys turn me off, too.”

“I could never be into the gay scene with its politics and all. I’ve just seen too many guys decide once they come out that it becomes everyone else’s problem to deal with. I’m not into femmy guys.”

We think Jim West was the embodiment of the old Groucho Marx one-liner:

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”

What Jim West was doing behind the scenes:

• Offering internships, jobs on the city payroll, money, gifts, and other perks to young men in exchange for sex.

Masturbating in his City Hall office while chatting online. This, he confessed to City Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers; West denied he ever said any such thing, but Rodgers stuck by her account.

How West was busted:

He went on a date with an online hookup who was just 18 (West was 53), and the “evening ended with consensual sex.” That’s when the Spokesman-Review got into the act:

Online relationships,” May 5, 2005

Timing of West story had to wait on facts,” May 8, 2005

What happened next: Everybody, from constituents to former mayors to the heads of the state Democratic and Republican parties, called for West’s resignation. He refused to step down. So voters (65% of them, in fact) recalled him in a special election in December, 2005.

By this time, an FBI investigation was already well under way; the agency raided West’s home and seized his personal computers. Technically, West was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, in February of 2006.

But, wait — there’s more:

When West’s duplicity hit the news, several men came forward to accuse West of sexually abusing them when they were boys:

West tied to sex abuse in ’70s, using office to lure young men,” Spokesman-Review, May 5, 2005

West faces new allegations,” Spokesman-Review, May 7, 2005

Speaking of underage youths, a funny thing jumped off the screen while we were looking at The Wayback Machine’s archived “Mayor’s Bio” page from the City of Spokane Web site. Well, really, it isn’t funny at all. It’s this:

• Board Member, Morning Star Boys Ranch.

Those of us who follow the dirty goings-on amongst the self-appointed arbiters of morality knows about the Morning Star Boys Ranch. In short, it’s a Catholic “residential group home for boys,” located in Spokane — and fraught with allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

The Spokesman-Review has maintained ongoing coverage of the abuse charges against Morningstar (and at least one pay-off) since mid-2005.

Not surprisingly, Jim West’s name surfaced in some of the Spokesman-Review’s earliest reports; e.g.:

Report false, ranch director says,” May 12, 2005

West, Hahn could have taken boys from ranch, official says,” June 26, 2005

Speaking of the Spokesman-Review: While turning out a superior investigative series on West, the paper took heat for failing to blow the story wide open when it first came to light in 2003 — and, worse, for endorsing West for mayor. Editor Steven A. Smith addressed the issue at the height of the chatroom revelation.

At the same time, the Spokesman-Review took heat for reporting the story at all.

Where Jim West is now: Dead. Diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003, West died of complications from surgery for the disease on July 22, 2006.

Suggested Bible reading for Mr. West:

None. He’s gone wherever it is he’s supposed to go, and there’s nothing the Bible can do for him now.

Boy, you’re sure brutal on a dead guy, aren’t you?

When we’re talking about another self-loathing, right-wing queer who made the lives of gay and lesbian Americans a helluva lot harder than they have to be, yeah.

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