The Chronicle is standing by its original reporting amid a threat of legal action from a Third Congressional District candidate's attorney over an article published in March 2022.
A lawyer representing Republican candidate Joe Kent sent a letter to Chronicle Publisher Chad Taylor last week demanding the newspaper “promptly retract” an article in which Kent appears to agree with an audience member who suggests the U.S. completely restrict immigration for 20 years because of the “demographic replacement that's happening.”
Kent has previously requested on multiple occasions that Taylor alter the article, though not until more than a year after it was first published.
The six-page letter, sent by the Dhillon Law Group and dated Aug. 28, alleges “the defamatory statement” made in the article opens The Chronicle up to potential litigation for both defamation and libel. In the letter, the attorney also asked The Chronicle to hand over its recording of the event in question.
“To avoid litigation, a response is demanded by September 5, 2023,” the letter reads.
The Chronicle has instead chosen to publish the recording of the relevant exchange with this article.
Chronicle owners Coralee and Chad Taylor and Editor-in-Chief Eric Schwartz stand by the accuracy of the reporting in the article, which was completed by Assistant Editor Isabel Vander Stoep, who was a reporter at the time of the March 2022 event.
In addition to its own audio recording, The Chronicle has reviewed video footage of the interaction.
“We had two journalists who observed it, we have audio that confirms it, and we have (seen) video that leaves no question,” Schwartz said. “And we have no plans to alter the story.”
At issue is a March 11, 2022, article about a town hall event Kent held in Onalaska two days prior.
According to the article, Vincent James, who spoke at a convention hosted by self-described “American Nationalist” Nick Fuentes titled the “America First Political Action Convention” and is himself a self-described “Christian nationalist,” asked multiple questions.
James was among a group of five men who traveled to the town hall from Idaho after Kent denounced the platform of Fuentes. At the time, they told The Chronicle they were there to defend Fuentes.
Below is the excerpt in question from the article, which was headlined “White Nationalists Dominate Discussion at Joe Kent Town Hall in Onalaska”:
James, after first bringing up Fuentes, asked Kent: “Do you support a complete shutdown on all immigration for the next 20 years, at the very least, to give people time to assimilate? Because we have these massive enclaves that are forming all across the country where people don't even have the most fundamental form of assimilation, which is language.”
In response, Kent said currently the only form of immigration he supports is through marriage because it leads to the formation of more families.
James then pushed the question again, saying, “So a complete shutdown on all immigration for the next 20 years, at the very least. Right?”
Kent responded: “Yep. That’s one of the best ways to keep a tight labor market in favor of American workers.”
James replied: “Well, not only because of labor, because of the demographic replacement that's happening in this country as well, right?”
Kent responded: “Yeah.”
(The full story can be read here.)
At the time, Kent vied for Washington’s Third Congressional District in the House of Representatives. In November 2022, he received 49.31% of the vote. Kent has since declared he will again run for the seat — which was won by Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez — in 2024.
Gluesenkamp Perez has seized on the interaction and referenced it multiple times on social media, both before the 2022 election and during the current election cycle.
“Joe Kent’s back for another run and he’s got the same extreme plan: close all our borders to all immigration for the next 20 years in order to reestablish a white majority. Southwest Washington rejected his garbage ideas in 2022 and we’ll do it again in 2024,” she posted on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, on May 11, 2023.
The post includes a video clip from an October 2022 debate between Kent and Gluesenkamp Perez hosted by KGW8, where Gluesenkamp Perez alleges Kent wants to restrict immigration for 20 years and Kent denies the allegation.
On Labor Day, she again posted the video clip.
“You agreed with them when they said that,” Gluesenkamp Perez said at the debate. “It’s on tape, Joe.”
During the interaction at the debate in October 2022, Kent says, “If you go back and look at the tape, I just got done arguing with the white nationalist clowns and I was turning to someone else.”
“And they completely and totally misquoted me,” Kent said in the Oct. 28, 2022, debate.
The recent letter from Kent’s attorney claims Kent's "yeah" response was addressed to an unnamed attendee, not as a response to James's question, though Kent’s exchange with James lasted well beyond the “yeah.”
“This was clear to those in attendance at the town hall, and we have identified several witnesses who are willing to testify to this under oath,” the Aug. 28 letter says.
After receiving the latest letter this week, Chad Taylor obtained a video of the interaction between the audience member and Kent on the social media platform Telegram.
The video captures the interaction that The Chronicle’s reporter recorded and appears to show Kent answering multiple questions from James without turning to acknowledge another attendee. Kent continues to disavow Fuentes for his "antisemitism" in the audio The Chronicle has now published.
The Aug. 28 letter says Kent ran “on a platform of ‘inclusive populism.’”
“Mr. Kent sought to unify working people of all backgrounds to fight for peace, prosperity, and America first policies,” the letter reads. “Mr. Kent expressly disavowed white nationalists, white supremacists and others who preached a message of divisive racial politics, as such politics are wholly inconsistent with Mr. Kent’s platform of ‘inclusive populism.’”
The letter cites tweets disavowing white nationalists from Sept. 30 and Oct. 13, 2022, more than six months after the interaction at the Onalaska town hall event.
“White nationalists sided w/ my opponents & spent money against me in the primary. I’m proud to be viewed as a threat by white nationalists, antifa, democrats & @CNN,” Kent’s Sept. 30, 2022 tweet reads in part.
According to the Aug. 28 letter, a representative for Kent’s campaign spoke with Chad Taylor and Chronicle CEO Coralee Taylor verbally and in an email this summer, both times alleging the story was inaccurate.
The Taylors responded on July 27 to Kent’s campaign that The Chronicle stands “by the accuracy of our reporting.”
When provided an opportunity to comment on this story Tuesday, Kent issued a press release calling The Chronicle's initial report a "smear" and accusing the newspaper of "aiding white nationalists who made defeating Joe their #1 priority." He characterized the arrival of the Idaho men at the Onalaska town hall in March 2022 as an attempted "ambush" and described them as "aggrieved white nationalists."
The demand letter from Kent's attorney and his Tuesday news release in reponse to a request for comment for this story are below: