By Steve Haner
Welcome to the current state of politics, where an incumbent preens as being free from special interest funding and their sworn enemy, all while the special interests spend millions seeking to tear down the challenger.
House Bill 827, approved by the 2020 General Assembly, did not really provide additional employment protection for Virginia’s pregnant women. It created a new state-level bureaucratic shillelagh to use if they felt aggrieved, backed up by the threat of state lawsuits and punitive damages.
Seventh District GOP congressional nominee Nick Freitas was among those voting no on the bill as it passed the House of Delegates. Now he is facing a barrage of union-sponsored ads claiming he voted to allow Virginia employers to fire pregnant women at will.
“He voted to let businesses discriminate and fire women for no other reason than their pregnancy,” the union group claims. The video shows a very pregnant woman morose as she leaves her place of employment. To make her more pitiable, it is raining and she’s getting soaked.
The ad is an outrageous lie, but what is new about that? Had House Bill 827 failed, existing federal law already prohibits firing women because they are or might become pregnant. It already dictates various workplace accommodations and provides a path for complaints ending with the possibility of federal lawsuit.
Only a vote to repeal the federal law would have made the union claim credible. But the message is not coming from incumbent Representative Abigail Spanberger, (D), so you cannot tag her with the lie.
Should voters let her hide that way?
Spanberger claims she staunchly opposes special interest money (sometimes she mentions “corporate PACS” but other times “special interests”). This particular attack on Freitas is supposedly an independent effort, one of six groups (below) buying televised ads ($2 million worth so far) allegedly outside her control. She is not disavowing them. We’ve already visited her tortured rationale for taking special interest assistance when it suits her, while refusing (“Get thee behind me, Satan!”) filthy corporate funds.
Here are the “independent” spenders for her so far:
- House Majority PAC
- United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs
- End Citizens United PAC
- Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
- EDF Action
- House Majority Forward
If all the money trails into her campaign were fully transparent, without doubt a significant portion of the money comes from various special interests, some of them corporate. What, the people who build wind and solar don’t work for major corporations? Do none of the Democratic joint committees (three support her) take corporate PAC funds? There is no more entrenched special interest than Big Labor. And that’s all fine, just don’t posture to voters you are running free of special interest cash.
Republicans called Spanberger out for accepting cash from Democratic committees that took corporate PAC funds but PolitiFact gave her claim of purity a “mostly true” because is was such a small percentage of her total. Well, none is supposed to be none. Also, PolitiFact looked only at her direct account. It did not examine these “independent” television campaigns, only part of the dark money activity that swamps both political parties. It was a whitewash.
Spanberger is also bragging “she led the fight to pass the strongest anti-corruption bill in a generation.” Well, HR 1 had unanimous House Democratic support so it wasn’t much of a “fight,” and no freshman member “led” any aspect of passing it. The bill also authorized taxpayer financing of campaigns, a new federal holiday on election day, and several provisions that the GOP saw as tilting toward the Democrats’ own favorite special interests and electoral success.
Reported CBS News about Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition:
The Senate majority leader referred to HR 1 as a “parade of horribles.” In particular, he has attacked the measure for restructuring the Federal Elections Commission from a six-member panel to a five-member panel, allowing one party to have three members, and the minority to have two. He also takes issue with the move toward public financing of elections, like the provision for a 6-to-1 government match for donations to presidential and congressional candidates.
As I’ve written before, this whole “your money is evil but our money is righteous” approach doesn’t stand up. All special interests are bidding for something. Hypocrisy abounds on all sides. Hold every candidate accountable for every dollar spent on their behalf, every message being delivered, because this business of “independent” activity is a fraud.