All Politics is Local

City councilor lashes out over email

Vancouver City Councilor Bill Turlay really doesn’t like Portland activist and newsletter-writer Richard Ellmyer, if a recent email correspondence between the two is any indication.

In response to a political newsletter authored by Ellmyer criticizing President Donald Trump, Turlay sent the following response from his official city council email account on July 31:

“Hi jerk. Still being an ass I see.

Are you better off today than 3 years ago?

I know I am.

I suppose you were a Teflon Hillary fan.  Can’t get over the fact she lost, can you.

Get your head out of your ass.

Liberals like you will be the end of our representative republic.”

Political differences aside, the response seemed personal. Which isn’t to say the newsletter from Ellmyer was a paragon of civility Oregon’s Republicans, the activist wrote, “must be publicly recognized, identified and treated as dangerous political pariahs.” The exchange was also forwarded to The Columbian from Ellmyer, which is a red flag in itself (I compared his version of the emails to Turlay’s. They matched). And for what it’s worth, a Google search of his name immediately turns up a Reddit thread titled “Why is Richard Ellmyer So Angry?”

But public officials, like journalists, get a bunch of over-the-top press releases and extreme newsletters in their inboxes. So why did Turlay respond to this one? Why take the bait?

I spoke with Turlay about the exchange. He said that he and Ellmyer had a brief history he’d once scheduled a meeting to sit down with Ellmyer two or three years ago, Turlay said, but cancelled when he decided Ellmyer’s views were too extreme.

“I said to myself, this guy’s a nutjob, and there’s no real reason to try to meet with him,” Turlay said.

“I think what he was doing was trying to stir up elected officials,” he continued. “He was just absolutely badmouthing the President of the United States, he was saying things that were very obnoxious as far as I was concerned.” 

Turlay also didn’t want me to publish this blog. Not because of his own response the salty language was just a byproduct “from 23 years in the Navy,” Turlay said but because he doesn’t want Ellmyer to get attention.

 “All this guy’s after is just publicity,” Turlay said.

But of course, Ellmyer’s not an elected official. He’s not representing a constituency. He’s not sending emails instructing the recipient to “get your head out of your ass” from servers supported by taxpayer dollars, as Turlay is.

And by using such incendiary language in his official capacity as an elected official, Turlay himself made this whole saga newsworthy. So here we are.

Calley Hair

Calley Hair

I write about city and federal politics. Find me at twitter.com/CalleyNHair