Clarification on story on Bainbridge candidate’s ‘Hillary for Prison’ controversy

A story on, “Bainbridge council race heats up over ‘Hillary for Prison’ photo,” (published online Tuesday, Oct. 29, may have left some confusion with readers about the distribution of the photo at the center of the controversy.

The news story centered on the kerfuffle caused by the posting of a photograph of council candidate Grayson William Wildsmith wearing a 2016 “Hillary for Prison” sleeveless shirt on a private Facebook page that allows posts by approved members only.

Wildsmith is a candidate for the District 4, Central Ward seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council. He is running against incumbent Leslie Scheider, and write-in candidate Cynthia Bellas.

After the photo of Wildsmith wearing a sleeveless shirt with the message “Hillary for Prison” was posted to the private Facebook page, Bainbridge podcasters reported the story, and Bellas contacted the podcasters from the “Wake Up Bainbridge” program to ask if the photo was genuine.

In an email thread later shared by Bellas with the Review and another local newspaper, Bellas asked the podcasters: “Is it true that earlier today there was a posted photo of Grayson with a ‘lock her up’ Hilary tank top when he was protesting her?” and added, “I have no idea if this is true and if it is that is horrible but if it’s not that’s a horrible thing to do to him and I want to stand up for him.”

After “Wake Up Bainbridge” responded with a link to their story about the controversy that included a picture of the candidate wearing the shirt, Bellas shared the email thread with the Review and another local newspaper, adding, “Can one of you verify this? 80% of our island voted for Hilary.”

Responding to the Review’s original story that said she “circulated” the link to the controversial photo, Bellas emphasized that she was only asking for verification that the photo and story were true, and said her intent was to defend Wildsmith if it was not.

Wildsmith later told the Review the photo was taken in Spokane before the 2016 election. He said he wore it to stimulate discussion at a social gathering he was attending, and added that he actually voted for Clinton in 2016.

“I heard about that Facebook post,” Wildsmith said in an email to the Review Monday.

“It is a shame when personal photos are taken out of context,” he said. “The context was that I was a political science major in college and wore that shirt to a gathering of friends with the hope of stirring discussion about the problems in our government — both Republican and Democrat — and it worked! I firmly believe that more women need to be in leadership positions worldwide. Also, I voted for Hillary.”

The Bainbridge Review did not publish the photo with its online story, as it was a personal photo that had been posted to a private social media


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