Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign is touting his support for the Violence Against Women Act — even though the Republican Senate minority leader has a consistent record of voting against the anti-domestic violence legislation.
A press packet that McConnell’s spokeswoman distributed to reporters at a Friday event titled “Women For Team Mitch” features testimonials from Kentucky women. One of them caught the eye of Joe Sonka, a reporter for the Louisville-based LEO Weekly, who posted it on Twitter.
The quote, attributed to a woman named Angela Leet in Jefferson County, read, “Mitch was the co-sponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act- and continues to advocate for stronger policies to protect women. I am proud to call him my senator.”
The claim belies the Republican leader’s actual record.
McConnell did cosponsor a version of the Violence Against Woman Act in 1991, which never received a Senate vote. But by the time the measure came up again in 1993, McConnell was no longer a cosponsor, and in fact voted against final passage of the bill. In 2005, it was renewed by an unrecorded voice vote. In 2012, McConnell voted against the Senate-passed VAWA, which died in the House. Then early in 2013, he again voted against VAWA re-authorization, which passed the Senate by a vote of 78-22, and eventually passed the House and was signed into law.
The minority leader has supported a scaled-back GOP alternative to VAWA which excludes protections for gays, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants who suffer from domestic abuse. Democrats strong-armed Republicans into accepting their expanded version.
Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes accused McConnell of deception.
“The women of Kentucky will not be fooled by Senator McConnell’s failed leadership and deception when it comes to issues important to women and their families,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton told TPM. “His actions read loud and clear: McConnell repeatedly voted against equal pay for equal work, the Violence Against Women Act and now turns to lies to cover his shameful record.”
A McConnell campaign spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment. At the Louisville event Friday, McConnell accused Grimes of adopting “the Barack Obama playbook to try to divide people with gender based attacks. We have seen that all too often and some of it has started already. But look, this campaign is about what kind of America do we want to have and what kind of Kentucky do we want to have.”