State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner issued an apology Tuesday, then retracted it after apparently sending a profane email to a reporter for the political blog Publicola.
"Let me just say, Josh had it coming in this email, and I don't apologize," Baumgartner told KIRO 7's Graham Johnson on Tuesday afternoon. "Look, it's a naughty word. It doesn't amount to a whole lot."
The email, which Publicola writer Josh Feit published on his blog, featured a photo of Baumgartner holding a gun and included the text, “Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go f*** yourself.” (Note: The original email did not include asterisks.)
"It was a personal discussion," Baumgartner said of the email exchange. "I'm not going to go into details about what was said, but the guy had it coming."
Feeks was killed last week in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
It isn’t entirely clear why Baumgartner used Feeks’ name, though Feit wrote that, “I interviewed Baumgartner yesterday [Monday] in the context of the story about US Rep. (and US Senate candidate) Todd Akin (R-MO). It’s hard to know what prompted his e-mail last night, but he noted during our interview yesterday that he was frustrated that the abortion issue was getting so much attention when he was focused on ending the war in Afghanistan.”
Baumgartner's office emailed a statement issuing an apology (below in italics), but after the apology was issued, Baumgartner said he did not apologize and that he did not see that part of the news release ahead of time.
Baumgartner, a Republican who is running against Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, for the U.S. Senate, wouldn't explain why he sent the email to Feit, but said he's frustrated with the media's coverage of the war.
"The issue here is not whether a bad word was said or not," he said. "Maybe it angers people, maybe it doesn't. Trust me, the guy had it coming. The issue here is the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the complete lack of leadership of bringing that war to a close."
Here is the full email apology sent by Baumgartner’s office, which Baumgartner now says does not apply:
Senator Michael Baumgartner made this statement today regarding Publicola’s article that published a private e-mail between him and Publicola editor, Josh Feit:
“This was a follow-up e-mail to a previous conversation with a local blogger,” Baumgartner said. "I apologize to Josh for my strong language."
“A cornerstone of my campaign thus far has been to address and end the war in Afghanistan. Every week, our best American men and women are killed. Since I announced my candidacy in October, 301 Americans have been killed.”
“The problem is that many media outlets, including Publicola, do not want to talk about why these men and women continue to be killed. They don’t want to discuss Maria Cantwell's record supporting the war in Afghanistan or a smarter foreign policy that can save thousands of lives in the future.”