Spokane Mayor Goes on TV to Deny Newspaper’s Charges

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Embattled Spokane, Wash., Mayor Jim West, accused of past sexual misconduct and using his office for personal gain, maintained his innocence in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday.

“I haven’t misused my office for personal gain. I haven’t done anything illegal,” he said.

A series of Spokesman-Review articles beginning May 5 included accusations the 55-year-old West had molested two boys while he was a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy in the mid-1970s and of more recently abusing the office of mayor to solicit sex from young men.

West, a Republican former state Senate majority leader and gay rights opponent, has repeatedly denied the abuse accusations as “flat lies.” The statute of limitations has expired on the molestation claims.

Asked on the “Today” show how he would describe himself, West said, “You know … bisexual, gay. After my marriage broke up about nine years ago, I did have intimate relationships with both men and women. … I’m not going to go into my private life on national TV.”

A public protest by about 30 people on Friday capped a week in which West said he will be vindicated by two separate investigations into his conduct — one by the FBI and one by the city of Spokane. Several major Spokane business and economic development groups have called for him to step down. One Spokane woman has filed a recall petition.

“I welcome those investigations because I think they will clear me,” West said on the “Today” show.

West said he was representing the mostly conservative views of his constituents when he took positions construed as anti-gay.

“I was not a leader of the charge in any of those cases. Every representative and every senator … when people elect you to go to the legislature, they elect you to do certain things,” he said.

The Justice Department and the city are investigating reports that he misused his office by offering jobs to young men he met in a gay chat room. The newspaper conducted a sting operation on a Gay.com chat room to confirm that West was making the offers.

West denied those accusations but acknowledged that he visited gay chat rooms and had relations with adult males.

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