People For the American Way

Senator Ayotte’s Real Record on Equal Pay for Women

News and Analysis

When New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte went head to head last week in a debate hosted by NH1 News, they touched on one of the most talked-about issues this election season, women's rights – specifically a woman's right to equal pay for equal work. Governor Hassan called for "an inclusive economy that works for everyone" while Senator Ayotte claimed that "equal pay for equal work is so important to me."

This issue has been a point of contention for the candidates for many months now. The New Hampshire Democratic Party fact-checked Senator Ayotte back in March, noting that her website misleads voters and covers up her past votes on the issue. Then in April Emily's List exposed Senator Ayotte's real record on the occasion of Equal Pay Day 2016, the date that women, on average, have to work to in order to make as much money as their male counterparts did in the previous year. Not only has Senator Ayotte opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act multiple times, but Donald Trump – who she has since renounced but stuck by for far too long – believes that the burden is on women to "do as good a job" as men.

The issue came up again two weeks ago when the Ayotte campaign released a new ad defending Senator Ayotte's equal pay record. Governor Hassan took her to task for this specious claim, citing not only the senator's votes against the Paycheck Fairness Act, but also her failure to introduce a meaningful alternative or to even fully acknowledge the pay gap's existence.

After last week's debate, Granite State Progress dug into the pay data on Senator Ayotte's own staff. They found a clear pay gap that has only gotten worse over time, in addition to an underrepresentation of women among her senior advisors. Governor Hassan and the state's other senator, Jeanne Shaheen, had virtually no pay gap in their offices. Senator Ayotte countered with her introduction of the GAP Act, a bill that is far from the most effective way to combat pay discrimination.

Like with her obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and his other federal judges, Senator Ayotte has made clear that she won't do her job on a lot of things. Ensuring equal pay for equal work seems to be one of them.