Virginia Republicans profit off the Trump administration’s reckless policies, energize Democratic grassroots donors
RICHMOND – On Wednesday, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate will host a fundraiser featuring Vice President Mike Pence. Ticket prices range from $500 to $10,000, to be used in Republicans’ desperate attempt to cling to their slim majorities in the General Assembly this year.
“While Virginia Republicans align themselves with the Trump administration, House Democrats are also getting a boost from Mike Pence’s visit,” said House Democrats’ spokeswoman Kathryn Gilley. “Virginians across the Commonwealth are fired up to reject the Trump/Pence agenda and win Democratic majorities in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia this year.”
More than 230 grassroots donors have contributed over $5,000 to Virginia House Democrats in less than a week to fight the Republican money machine backed by Pence and the Koch Brothers – including the 150 donors who donated on behalf of Mike Pence to have a thank-you note sent to his White House office. The average donation was $21.87.
The thank you note to Vice President Pence reads: “Thank you for visiting us here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Your visit is bringing attention and enthusiasm to our odd-year elections. It motivates our base to get out the vote and fight back against the divisive and extreme policies advocated by yourself and President Trump.”
“Not only does Mike Pence stand by President Trump’s reckless agenda – including separating migrant children from their parents and declaring a national emergency to spend eight billion taxpayer dollars on a border wall – but he has his own long history of backwards, destructive policies,” Gilley continued. “We’d wonder why Virginia Republicans would want to align themselves with him, but if you take a look at their voting records, it actually makes sense.”
As a Congressman, Pence co-sponsored legislation that would update the language on the requirement for access to federal funding for abortion from “rape” to so-called “forcible rape,” earning comparisons to Todd Akin’s infamous comment on “legitimate rape.” He also threatened a government shutdown in his fight to defund Planned Parenthood. Later, as Governor of Indiana, Pence supported and signed legislation to ban abortion even in cases of severe genetic abnormality, which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. And while campaigning for Trump in 2016, Pence vowed to support Supreme Court justices who would send Roe v. Wade “to the ash heap of history.”
Likewise, Virginia General Assembly Republicans have continually pushed to restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare. They were responsible for the extreme transvaginal ultrasound bill that drew national criticism in 2012, and they’re still sticking to the same playbook in 2019, stoking unfounded fears about third-trimester abortion and falsely and egregiously claiming that Democrats support legalizing infanticide.
As Governor, Pence signed an anti-LGBT bill under the pretense of supporting religious freedoms. The bill was so discriminatory that businesses and corporations threatened to boycott the state before the bill was amended.
Virginia Republicans also have a long history of fighting against LGBT equality, refusing to change state law when a federal court ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in 2014. After the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear the appeal, the Republican Speaker of the House said, “I have been a longtime supporter of traditional marriage and am naturally disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling.”
Republicans, particularly in the House of Delegates, have repeatedly killed legislation that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in housing, as well as legislation that would update Virginia’s hate crime law to include crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
As Vice President, Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education, despite her clear disdain of public schools and lack of credentials in education.
Virginia House Republicans appear to be in lockstep with Pence and DeVos’s assault on public education, consistently introducing bills to redirect public school funds to private school vouchers, including the establishment of the Education Improvements Scholarships Tax Credit Program in 2012.
This is also the same Vice President who stood by Trump’s defense of white nationalists in the deadly Charlottesville rally.
Pence’s agenda is so extreme that even fellow conservatives have denounced him. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman said, “As bad as y’all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence… We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president…” and former Breitbart executive and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said of Pence, “I’m concerned he’d be a president that the Kochs would own.”