After allegations over the use of highly-offensive terms, Debra Wachspress, a Pennsbury School Board member and Democrat running for Congress, has dropped out of the race.
“Today, Debbie Wachspress announced she is ending her congressional campaign,” a statement to the media read.
Earlier this week, former Pennsbury administrator Sherri Morett filed a lawsuit that accused Wachspress of using offensive slurs used to describe black people, members of the Jewish faith, and gay men during an April 2018 Pennsbury School Board executive session.
In the lawsuit, Morett claimed that Wachspress only stopped using the words at the meeting after other school board members “screamed that her comments were highly offensive.”
Wachspress’ alleged crude language came as she was sticking up for Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula. The district’s top paid employee is among the focuses of Morett’s lawsuit and one filed by former administrator Kevin Dorsey. This news organization broke news in 2018 of reported problems in the district.
The day after news of Morett’s lawsuit came out Wachspress released a statement admitting she used the one slur in recounting a story from her childhood 42-years-old ago.
“The allegations in this fraudulent suit are complete and utter distortions,” she said.
Democratic sources said in recent weeks that rumors of potentially damaging information that could impact Wachspress’ campaign had swirled leading up to Morett’s lawsuit.
Wachspress raised large sums of money for her campaign but failed to earn the primary election nominations of the Democratic committees in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Wachspress’ full statement from Thursday afternoon has been posted online:
“When I first considered running for U.S. Congress a year ago, I thought I understood what I would face. I knew that lies would be told and words taken out of context, even invented, to disparage me publicly. I was concerned about the impact this would have on my family, and finally I sat our kids down and told them I was not going to run. They said, ‘Mom, you’re running. There’s no one who cares more and would be better at this than you.’ And so, I ran — because of my kids, and because of all of our kids. I know that wrong sometimes triumphs over right, and that bullies are winning the day, both locally and nationally. But I’ve always tried my best to take a stand for right, and I ran for that reason.
“Unfortunately, I now find myself in a situation where my family is going to suffer – with this recent offensive and completely false narrative of who I am – and my candidacy will also. It is clear to me that these lies and distortions will be too big a distraction to overcome. I care too much about sending a Democrat to Congress to stay in the race under these circumstances. So today, I am withdrawing my candidacy for Congress in PA-01. I’ve always been a doer, an organizer, a fighter. Despite the injustices and distortions that led to this decision, I will continue to fight as I have done my entire life for the future of our community.
“I’m deeply grateful to all those who have supported my campaign and me personally throughout this effort. I have had the opportunity to meet so many good, hardworking people across Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and I look forward to helping ensure they are represented by Christina Finello in 2021. Christina has run a strong grassroots campaign and will be a tenacious fighter for the people of this district.”
Editor’s Note: Publisher/Editor Tom Sofield’s father, Chris, is Meehan’s campaign manager.