Katie Porter Apologizes for Calling California Vote Rigged

Katie Porter

Photo: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Sometimes, when you lose and say something a little crass in the aftermath, it can take a little while to admit you were wrong. That waiting period took two weeks for outgoing Representative Katie Porter, who apologized on Tuesday for calling the March 5 California Senate primary “rigged” after she lost to Adam Schiff.

“So, obviously, I wish I had chosen a different word,” Porter said on the Pod Save America podcast, hosted by a crew of former Obama aides. “I want to really make clear that at no time, in no way, would I ever suggest that there’s anything other than a careful, thoughtful, amazing election system that actually should be the model for a lot of the country in my opinion.”

Though Porter took back the language many Republican politicians throw around to describe a presidential election in which there was effectively no voter fraud, she pressed her point in a different way during the podcast. “When you have people coming in spending millions and millions of dollars at the last minute, and that money is not disclosed until after the election so people don’t know about it, they can’t take it into account when they vote,” she said. The congresswoman was likely referring to $10 million in PAC money from a group called Fairshake, which received donations from cryptocurrency magnates including Marc Andreessen and the Winklevoss twins. Ads put out by the group, which constituted the largest outside expenditure in the California senate race, accused the progressive representative and crypto critic of not standing up for her stated values in Congress. Porter then blamed her loss on “an onslaught of billionaires spending millions to rig this election.”

It’s difficult to gauge the impact of one ad campaign amid a multi-candidate primary in which 7 million people voted. But regardless of whether Porter had a point about outside spending, Democrats were quite upset with her for using one of Donald Trump’s favorite words as they try to promote trust in an election system many Americans still have doubts over. Whether her belated apology will help stem the reputational damage wrought by her original comments remains to be seen. Either way, Porter will have to figure out what to do without her seat in the House next year.

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