TX Atty Gen. Wouldn’t Sign Fair Pay Act Amid Reports Of Pay Disparities In His Office

March 19, 2014 1:21 p.m.

As Texas Democrats zero in on Attorney General Greg Abbott’s (R) stance toward the gender wage gap, a campaign spokesman said that if Abbott were governor he wouldn’t sign legislation making it easier for women to bring a pay discrimination suit.

“Because wage discrimination is already against the law and because legal avenues already exist for victims of discrimination, Greg Abbott would have not signed this law,” campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Express-News was compiling salary figures from the Texas attorney general’s office. The newspaper reported Wednesday that female assistant attorneys general make less on average than do men in the same position under Abbott.

The average salary for the 343 male assistant attorneys general in Abbott’s office is $79,464, the Express-News found, while the average salary for 379 women is $73,649. Abbott’s office told the newspaper that the discrepancy is explained by the amount of time the men have been licensed as lawyers and have served at the agency.

State Sen. Wendy Davis’s (D) gubernatorial campaign has hammered her opponent on the equal pay issue since he told a local TV station that existing law was sufficient to protect women’s pay. Davis proposed a state version of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would have extended the statute of limitations for bringing a discrimination suit if an employer paid someone less based on gender, race or religion, that was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) last year.

Comments from Abbott surrogates gave her campaign even more ammo this week: the executive director of Red State Women’s PAC, which is courting female voters for Abbott, said women are too “busy” to legislate equal pay while the head of the state GOP said that women should just become “better negotiators.”

Republicans have deployed a similar line of attack to what Davis is using on Abbott against President Barack Obama, arguing female staffers at the White House make 88 cents to every dollar their male colleagues earn.

This post has been updated.

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