Video of Donald Trump boasting about groping women is “disgusting,” lands-commissioner candidate Steve McLaughlin now says.

Share story

Steve McLaughlin, the GOP candidate for commissioner of public lands, announced Thursday he no longer supports Donald Trump for president because of a video released last Friday in which Trump boasts of groping women.

“The more I reflect on it, the more disappointed and offended I am by Trump’s behavior as shown in the 2005 video,” McLaughlin said, adding, “What Trump said is thoroughly disgusting, it showed reprehensible conduct that is unacceptable anywhere, anytime, by anyone.”

McLaughlin had supported the GOP presidential nominee even initially after the video was made public. “ … I’ll weigh my vote for President based on who I think would be the best Commander in Chief and appoint the best judges.

“But frankly, all this is a distraction. He apologized for this remark he made 11 years ago,” McLaughlin wrote in an email to The Seattle Times Sunday.

Part of sticking with Trump was a commitment to loyalty, McLaughlin said in a prepared statement Thursday.

“However that value led me as a Republican to refrain (from) speaking out longer than I should have,” McLaughlin wrote.

“As a result of Mr. Trump’s conduct … I will not support my party’s nominee. I cannot support Hillary Clinton either, so I will carefully evaluate the remaining candidates before I vote.”

McLaughlin’s support for Trump after the video led to the cancellation of a fundraiser Monday at the Rainier Club. William Pickard, a Seattle management consultant and founding member of the George Pocock Rowing Foundation, announced the cancellation Wednesday, in part because of McLaughlin’s continued support for Trump.

“His comments are not mere distractions,” Pickard wrote of Trump in the cancellation announcement. “They are fundamental problems with the candidate, and are antithetical to our conservative values.”

Pickard noted he “did not wish to be associated with anyone who maintains his support for Donald Trump.”

McLaughlin lags significantly behind his opponent, Hilary Franz, in fundraising. She has a campaign war chest more than four times that of McLaughlin, with $482,197 compared with $111,885 for McLaughlin.

The commissioner of public lands leads the Department of Natural Resources and makes policy for more than 5 million acres of public lands including forests, aquatic lands and rangelands. The commissioner of public lands is also the state’s top forest firefighter and logging cop.

The two candidates differ widely in their experience and backgrounds. Franz is a Seattle environmental lawyer who has taken a leave from her position as executive director at Futurewise, a nonprofit dedicating to protecting and implementing the state’s Growth Management Act to fight sprawl.

McLaughlin retired after 25 years in the Navy where, among other duties, he noted in his statement Thursday, he was an instructor in sexual-harassment-prevention training after the Navy’s Tailhook scandal in 1991, in which male aviators sexually harassed and assaulted their female colleagues.

McLaughlin today is a trainer for emergency responders.

Pickard said Thursday the fundraiser is still canceled and declined further public comment.