by Bruce A. Smith
A wave of highly edited video clips from several teachings of Ramtha the Enlightened One have ignited a firestorm in local political contests, especially the battles for Thurston County Council and the state senate race in the 2nd LD.
The first video was produced by Virginia Coverdale, a former student at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE), and apparently was expanded by other disaffected ex-students. A two-minute-plus clip compiled from at least three different events at RSE was delivered to the Republican Party by Ms. Coverdale and subsequently used by the Republicans to attack several Democratic candidates in local races, most notably incumbent Sandra Romero in her bid to keep her Thurston County Council seat, and Bruce Lachney, who is challenging Randi Becker in the 2nd Legislative District for the state senate.
Both Romero and Lachney spoke at the Ramtha School in September and have received some financial support from Ramtha’s channel, JZ Knight. The Lachney campaign confirms that he received $3,600 from Knight, and published reports list that Romero has received $1,800.
In addition, Knight gave the Washington State Democratic Party an additional $50,000 and the Obama campaign $45,000. Reportedly, Knight also gave Democrat Denny Heck $3,500 for his campaign in the new 10th Congressional District, and Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens received $1,800.
At the core of the controversy are exceptionally profane remarks by Ramtha against the Catholic Church in which he lambastes priests engaging in pedophilia. Coverdale expanded her attacks on Friday, October 26, when she joined forces with the conservative Freedom Foundation and released a second video of Ramtha, this time castigating Catholics of Mexican decent.
Those outraged by these videos make no distinction between JZ Knight and Ramtha, and they claim that her political contributions are so contaminated by polemic vitriol that the recipients of her donations should return the money and distance themselves from Ramtha’s remarks.
“If I had said what she (JZ Knight/Ramtha) said, I’d be run out of town on a rail,” Kirby Wilbur, chair of the Washington State Republican Party told the Mountain News this week; and he is calling for the Democratic candidates to return the money.
In rebuttal, officials at the Ramtha School say the video clips take Ramtha’s teachings out of context, and should be seen as highly doctored documents that serve a fierce political agenda.
Still unresolved at this point, however, is the overall context of Ramtha’s teachings – what did he say and what does he really teach. Nevertheless, RSE officials state that the videos are copyrighted material and private property, and are being improperly used by the Republicans and Coverdale.
Andrea McNeeley, a Tacoma attorney retained by RSE, told the Mountain News that her firm is investigating this unauthorized use and is considering taking legal action against Ms. Coverdale. In addition, Ms. McNeeley said that she would be contacting the Republican Party and asking them “to take down” the videos.
For her part, Coverdale feels that she has done nothing wrong, and claims that her actions are covered by “Fair Use” doctrines even though those provisions are generally reserved for teachers who want to use copyrighted materials in their classrooms or for academics conducting research.
For the moment, RSE is putting the issue into a framework that Coverdale is an angry ex-student driven primarily by unrequited love.
On October 24, RSE released a letter from Coverdale’s brother, Dave Champagne, which seemed to explain his sister’s release of the videos as part of her emotional response to having an affair with JZ Knight’s former long-term romantic partner, James Flick. Mr. Champagne’s letter suggests that in the aftermath of her liaison with Flick his sister became disaffected with Ramtha, befriended other wayward RSE students and that she then became immersed in the political campaign of Sandra Romero’s Republican challenger, Andrew Barkis. Eventually, her passions led her to find the means to discredit Romero through the Ramtha videos.
However, Coverdale’s statements to the Mountain News reveal that more than just lust and love is at stake, and her actions may be the opening salvos in an effort to discredit JZ Knight, Ramtha, and all of RSE.
“I was over James Flick a long time ago,” she said. “That was four years ago.”
Now, Virginia says that she wants to destroy what she considers a cult, and expose JZ Knight as a fraud.
Virginia says that she began being “processed out of the cult” in February of 2012 when Ramtha delivered an eleven-hour teaching during which he harshly criticized Coverdale for her relationship with Flick.
“Ramtha twice called me a whore – you call that being enlightened?” she said.
Coverdale says that she then began associating with about 400 disaffected Ramtha students who still live in the Yelm area and found solace.
Then, several weeks ago she received “anonymously” a flash drive copy of the momentous February event. She took it to some of her ex-RSE friends, and a small group began composing the video that was delivered to the Republicans. Some footage was added from the Romero-Lachney presentation in September.
In addition, video clips circulating on Facebook and YouTube show a third section that has Ramtha wearing a brightly-colored floral tunic and claiming that he purposefully sought to become outrageous to protect the school. This piece seems to be from an older video known as the RSE “Rockumentary,” which was released about ten years ago.
Nevertheless, there are multiple versions of the video that Coverdale and her associates produced, and it is unclear how many different Ramtha events were accessed and how many videographers amended the tapes.
As for attacking JZ Knight, along with the new video that features what she characterizes as ethnic slurs against Mexicans, Coverdale is accusing JZ of criminal wrongdoing, including unemployment fraud with RSE staff and money laundering,
“I want her exposed as a con-artist and put in jail,” Coverdale said.
Along those lines, Virginia’s brother Dave told the Mountain News that his sister feels that JZ Knight gave the money to Romero and the others to curry political favor, in particular for county officials to “look the other way” regarding code violations at the Ramtha school. Champagne scoffs at his sister’s accusations, but they reveal the depths of her intentions.
However, Ms Coverdale has not offered any evidence to support those claims. Further, Ms Coverdale is threatening to release all eleven hours of the video that she obtained surreptitiously.
© 2012 Bruce A. Smith
Disclosure Notice: I have been a student at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment since 1988; however, I have not attended regularly since 2008. – BAS.
1. Here is a link to Virginia Coverdale’s first video:
2. Here is the second video:
3. RSE has hired a public relations firm, Wynne Communications, which has released the following statement regarding the videos:
“The quotes were taken out of context and not meant to disparage Catholics. The comments were meant to draw attention to the abuses and subsequent cover-ups of the Catholic Church and not intended to criticize any individuals of any persuasion. JZ Knight has always supported the rights of the LGBT community including marriage equality and legal benefits.
“JZ Knight is a private citizen and like, all Americans, has the right to support the candidates of her choice. JZ Knight is very concerned about the choices in this election, nationally, statewide and locally. She supports the rights of women, the poor, the elderly, the middle class and the environment. JZ has publicly urged hundreds of thousands of people on the importance of voting this year and she supports an honest and open election where all citizens have the right to vote.”
4. Dave Champagne’s letter describing his sister, Virginia Coverdale, actions is reproduced below:
“I was a student in the Ramtha School for approximately ten years, from 1991 to 2001. I am not a current student and don’t represent the school. I remember the Ramtha School as very unorthodox but as a place of peace and empowerment. Although I no longer attend the school, most of my friends and family have attended at one time and we all think the world of the work they do there.
“Virginia Coverdale is my sister. She is largely responsible for the creation and distribution of recent videos about the Ramtha School. These videos are deliberately edited to make it seem that the school is a dangerous haven for child abuse and homophobia. Firsthand I can say that is not even remotely true.
“I am deeply saddened that my sister has allowed her personal unresolved hurts and grudges to taint and distort the truth and actions of this school of thousands of innocent people worldwide, many of whom I know to be decent and loving people. What is more disturbing to me — and the reason I am finally speaking up after many months of silence — is that the motivation for my sister’s actions is based purely on bitterness and anger.
“Virginia had an affair with JZ Knight’s partner, James Flick, a couple of years ago. James had left my sister within weeks of the affair being found out. She felt humiliated and became rageful and angry, not just at James but at JZ Knight as well. Virginia spent much of her time obsessing over them both and she couldn’t let it go. In the past year Virginia’s obsession took the form of blogging with other disenfranchised ex-Ramtha School students about JZ Knight.
“A few months ago, she told me and my family that she was working on the Andrew Barkis Campaign for Thurston County Commissioner. She said she was hoping if she did a good job helping him get elected, he would offer her a job after the election. We were all glad she was pursuing productive work and getting on with her life. She said part of her objective was to oust current County Commissioner Sandra Romero.
“When we saw the videos she posted on YouTube and distributed to state and local officials, we were shocked and sickened but we were not surprised. I tried to convince myself this was just dirty politics . . . but the videos clearly showed us that she is taking her rage against JZ and the Ramtha School to a broader audience under the guise of a political agenda. Sandra Romero and the campaign against her was just a convenient excuse.
“I never wanted to have to say these deeply personal things about my sister but I just can’t allow such blatant distortions of the Ramtha School to go undefended by someone who has both been there and knows Virginia’s motivations.
“I’d like to add that I know BOTH Sandra Romero and Andrew Barkis personally. I don’t feel either one of them deserves to be attacked in any manner like this. Sandra Romero, especially, has my deepest sympathies.”
Dave’s letter can be accessed at the RSE web site:
5. The question of what degree of responsibility a political candidate has to accept or reject the ethics of those who donate money is addressed by Republican James Vaughn, who lost in the State Senate primary to Randi Becker. The letter was given to the Mountain News by officials at RSE, and is reproduced in full, below:
“I am not a fan of JZ Knight and understand your position. However, the fact that Bruce (Lachney) gave a speech to a group of JZ Knight Followers should be commended. With that in mind, I did not hear any complaints or see Bruce Lachney attack Randi Becker for speaking to “The League of Women Voters” that tends to be extremely liberal. Bottom line is that elected officials represent everyone.
“I object to the false presentation that superimposed more than one video to create a distorted and disgusting attack on Bruce Lachney. I am even more distressed that the Republican Party “Paid for and Authorized” this attack. As a Republican, I am embarrassed and offended by this attack. Personally, I am fed up with both parties. I vote for the person not the party.
“Bruce (Lachney) spent 6 years defending our country and has led an exemplary life. He does not deserve this attack. In my 58 years, I have never seen a more disgusting act of dirty politics. We have real and serious problems and I want the most qualified person to represent me.
“Randi Becker’s term as Senator was a disaster. With a budget deficit, problems with healthcare, education and so on, her only claim to fame in four years was to get a bill passed so all the yellow traffic lights would go on and off at the same rate of speed.
“After getting $2400 in campaign contributions from Premera Blue Cross she tried to submit an amendment that would deny citizens access to information on increases in their health insurance.
“Randi Becker also tried to get a bill passed that would force nursing homes to use recycled medicine. After, Federal investigators have raided pharmacies in Seattle and Bellingham looking for evidence that potentially dangerous returned drugs were being resold to elderly and disabled patients without their knowledge Becker retracted Senate Bill 6048.
“The fact that someone objects to a candidate willing to represent everyone in opposition to Randi Becker that is a puppet for the special interest groups, willing to screw the citizens of our state amazes me. I vote for the person, not the party. The fact that we paid her salary for four years in which she accomplished zilch is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Bruce Lachney has my vote.
Former GOP Candidate for WA State Senate 2LD
US Army Retired
6. JZ Knight has issued a second press release in response to the airing of the second video
Yelm, Washington. October 26, 2012 — JZ Knight and Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment have learned today that a group responsible for disseminating a misleading and heavily edited video has plans for another posting. The group has now threatened to post a new video that includes several hours of footage from an online event sponsored by the School. The School’s attorneys believe that this may violate copyright law and be in breach of a contract signed by one of the group’s members. The School is investigating and will seek legal protection if necessary.
About Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment
Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE) was established in 1988 by Ramtha the Enlightened One as an academy of the mind that offers retreats and workshops to participants from all over the world and from all walks of life. Using ancient wisdom and the latest discoveries in neuroscience and quantum physics, RSE teaches students how to access the extraordinary abilities of the brain to “Become a Remarkable Life®.” Ramtha’s teachings are not a religion. They offer a unique perspective from which to view the mystery of life. For more information, please visit www.ramtha.com.