Yesterday the Missouri House of Representatives gave first-round approval to a proposal requiring voters to present valid, government-issued photo identification in order to vote. As it did in a failed attempt in 2012, it includes both a constitutional amendment permitting a requirement for voter identification (which would be placed on the 2014 ballot) and legislation restricting the types of identification that can be shown at the polls. This change would have a disproportionate impact on African Americans, the elderly, low-income people, people with disabilities, and students, who are twice as likely to lack the required ID.
Reverend Isaac McCullough of St. Louis, MO, a member of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, issued the following statement:
“Faith leaders in my state worked hard in the months leading up to November to get our communities to the polls. It is disheartening to see that some of our Representatives yet again want to discourage, rather than encourage, people from voting. Suppressive voter ID laws fall especially hard on people who are already marginalized, threatening to keep many Missourians from the polls in future elections. That’s not what our democracy is supposed to be about. As faith leaders, we have fought hard to protect the right to vote – and we are not about to give up that fight anytime soon.”
Todd Akin complained in the New York Times this week that Claire McCaskill’s campaign is “trying to make me look like some kind of a weirdo or something.” But as a former Democratic senator from Missouri might have said, McCaskill is just telling the truth about Akin, and he thinks it’s weird.
COLLISON: Gambling opponent and state legislator Todd Akin has his response already prepared.
AKIN: I would hope that we would send a very bad message to any industry that wants to come in and use big dollars to rape our Constitution. If we want to change it, there's a process to do that, and that of course is coming up in November.
On March 11, 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back and killed outside his Pensacola, Florida clinic by an assassin who stepped out of a group of anti-abortion protesters. Days later, longtime Todd Akin associate Tim Dreste delivered a chilling message to St. Louis-area doctor Yogendra Shah. Dreste stood in front of his clinic with a sign that read “Dr. Shah, are you feeling under the Gunn?” – referring to the slain Florida doctor. We’ve obtained a short video recording of this infamous incident, which you can watch below.
Wearing a hat adorned with shotgun shells, Tim Dreste is a familiar sight among the anti-abortion protesters who regularly picket the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City.Dreste was the talk of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights camps when, after the murder in 1993 of Dr. David Gunn in Florida, he carried a sign asking, "Do You Feel Under the Gunn?"
Many seem to think that Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks placed him on the fringe of the Republican Party. In reality, he’s spent most of his career there.
It’s now widely known that Akin teamed up with Paul Ryan in 2011 to try to narrow the definition of rape – i.e. “forcible rape.” This is no anomaly. Early in his career as a state legislator, Akin even tried to narrow the definition of child abuse.
Back in May of 1991, the Missouri House debated a bill to “outlaw rape and sexual abuse in marriage.” “Rape is rape,” said Rep. Jo Ann Karll shortly before the bill was overwhelmingly passed. “Missouri is finally moving into the 20th century,” said Colleen Coble, executive director of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
But not everyone was celebrating. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on 5/1/91 that Akin voted for the bill but “questioned whether a marital rape law might be misused ‘in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband.’”
Just about any law can be abused, and lawmakers must always be cognizant of this. But Akin seems to be preoccupied with the potential for abuse of the law whenever it relates to the government preventing abuse in the household.
Akin and his supporters believe that the husband is head of the household, and they’re loathe to regulate what he can and cannot do to his wife and children. In fact, prominent Akin supporter Phyllis Schlafly denies the very possibility of marital rape: “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape.”
And so in March of 1992, Akin fought for a narrower definition of child abuse. The Missouri House was considering a bill to create a “statewide child abuse review board” and tighten the standard for proving child abuse from “reason to suspect” to “credible evidence.”
The bill’s sponsor said the definition change was necessary to ensure that “all cases of child abuse can be covered.” Akin, however, was suspicious. He argued that the bill “needed a more restrictive definition of abuse” because of the potential for abuse of the child abuse law. The Post-Dispatch reported on 3/5/92:
Akin said he was concerned that ‘the department could come into your home and if your kid had just fallen off his bike and skinned his knee…take your kid away.’ Akin also said that with a loose definition of abuse, neighbors might use child-abuse reports ‘as a tool to harass, a way to get even with’ someone they dislike.
This is how Akin’s mind works. You need to worry about vengeful soon-to-be ex-wives claiming rape to get back at their husbands. You need to make sure that non-forcibly raped women aren’t getting government-funded medical care. And you can’t let neighbors harass one another by falsely claiming child abuse to the overbearing nanny state enforcers who will take kids away for having a scraped knee.
Akin’s efforts earned him a rebuke from the Post-Dispatch editorial board, which singled him as an alarmist who supports an “excessively restrictive child-mistreatment law” and resorts to “extreme and unlikely examples to bolster his case.” It seems like they had him pegged way back then.
Here is the full 3/10/92 editorial, entitled “Abuse Law Fair to the Accused, Children”:
The Missouri House is moving ahead in setting up a state board that would arbitrate disputes between people accused of child abuse and the Division of Family Services. The House gave initial approval to this proposal on Wednesday. It shouldn't allow critics to prevent it from passing the bill, sponsored by Rep. Kaye Steinmetz of Florissant.Missouri's child-abuse law is basically a good one, but it needed to be revised. The bill would restrict the standard the state would use in proving child abuse. The old standard called for ‘reason to suspect.’ The new standard would require ‘credible evidence.’Clearly, the change is aimed at protecting people from being recklessly and falsely accused of abusing children. Some critics say the definition should be even more restrictive, but they should give this proposal the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, more restrictions will be added to the law if critics, like Republican Rep. Todd Akin of St. Charles, get their way. Mr. Akin resorts to extreme and unlikely examples to bolster his case.The bill, he argues, would permit child-abuse investigators to ‘come into your home and if your kid had just fallen off his bike and skinned his knee…take your kid away.’ In fact, the more restrictive the law, the more it ties the hands of child-abuse investigators and the more likely serious cases of child mistreatment might go undetected.Mr. Akin does raise a real concern, however, when he says a disgruntled person might try to use the child-abuse law to harass a neighbor. But the way to address that issue is through better trained child-abuse investigators. The bill would mandate improved training, which should make the workers more proficient in investigating cases while protecting people from being falsely accused.The statewide child abuse review board would be appointed by the governor and would require Senate confirmation. The Legislature should see the benefits in passing the bill in its existing form rather than weakening it to appease alarmists who favor an excessively restrictive child-mistreatment law.
Todd Akin’s campaign continues to sponsor The Janet Mefferd Show, as Mefferd has hosted Akin surrogates like Janet Huckabee and Linda Becker of “Women Standing with Todd Akin.” Finally, the embattled Senate candidate himself appeared on the far-right talk show, where he said that Missourians know that people who “believe in traditional marriage” and “believe in freedom” are able to “understand the threat that Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama pose to our country,” which is why he believes he will in in November.
One of the things that a lot of the establishment people have not understood about this race is there are polls that just talk about ‘how would you vote’ but there’s also another factor in there and that’s the enthusiasm, the fire and the drive and the energy that’s in a campaign. Our campaign has a tremendous energy behind it. The people that are involved in this race know what they believed. They believe that our Creator gave us life, liberty the pursuit of happiness; they believe in traditional marriage, they believe in freedom. These people understand the threat that Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama pose to our country.
“I believe in my heart of hearts that this is one we’re going to put in the Republican column by God’s grace,” Akin added, urging donations to his campaign since he trails McCaskill in fundraising.
Akin went on to suggest that Obama is raising taxes on people who simply turn on their lights or purchase a wheelchair.
You remember how Barack Obama specifically promised nobody making less than $250,000 is going to be taxed, well that’s absolutely ridiculous, he’s taxed them with dozens of taxes on people that make less than $250,000. His energy policy, anybody who flips a light switch is going to get taxed. He’s got taxes—these people tax some of the weirdest things. Would you ever even in a wild moment would you ever consider taxing a wheelchair? I mean these people are bizarre.
The Family Research Council is organizing another Religious Right bus tour to bolster Todd Akin’s campaign for Missouri against Sen. Claire McCaskill. The “Repeal and Replace McCaskill Tour” will feature prominent conservative figures like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins and Phyllis Schlafly and lesser-known activists like Stephen Broden.
The Faith, Family, Freedom Fund, a super PAC associated with Family Research Council Action, is bringing a statewide bus tour through Missouri, October 28th - November 2nd, with one clear message: Senator Claire McCaskill’s policies are harmful to Missouri families .
Come help us cheer on the Repeal & Replace McCaskill tour as the bus stops near you! We must fight to bring the truth to the people of Missouri!
The Fund is joined in this effort by other prominent leaders and groups such as Phyllis Schlafly, Governor Mike Huckabee, Ken Blackwell, Tony Perkins, Pastor Stephen Broden, The Honorable Marilyn Musgrave, Susan B. Anthony List, Eagle Forum PAC and several more.
Broden is a failed Republican candidate for Congress who garnered national attention when he floated violent insurrection against the Obama administration.
While Akin seeks to distance himself from his past support for militia groups and radical anti-abortion rights groups and their leaders, the inclusion of Broden on the bus tour only highlights Akin’s close relationship with the most extreme elements of the far-right.
As her husband Mike Huckabee has emerged as one of Todd Akin’s biggest boosters, Janet Huckabee is now hitting the campaign trail along with the Duggar family for Akin, whose campaign has been unraveling after he said survivors of “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant as a result. She told conservative radio show host Janet Mefferd, who noted before the broadcast that “portions of The Janet Mefferd Show are sponsored by the Todd Akin for U.S. Senate campaign,” that “women are really on fire for Todd Akin” and “women know what they want and right now I think they want Todd Akin to be their Senator.” Despite Huckabee’s spin or presence in an alternative reality, polls have consistently shown McCaskill with a double digit lead among women voters.
Mefferd: As you’re going around and you’re talking to women and you’re doing these events around the state of Missouri, what are you hearing from women in particular about their support for Todd Akin and what they think conversely about Senator McCaskill?
Huckabee: I think women are really on fire for Todd Akin. They’re out there, they’re praying for him, they’re lifting him up in prayer, they’re giving financially. You know everybody can’t give millions and millions of dollars, and it’s to me more important that a thousand people give one dollar than it is for one person to give a thousand dollars, because if you have a thousand people that are willing to give a dollar the amount is the same but you have a thousand people that have put skin in the game and you have a thousand votes of people who are going to say ‘hey, I’m going to vote for him.’ I tell people it doesn’t matter what you give, it’s equal sacrifice that you’re willing to make phone calls, that you’re willing to put up signs, that you’re willing give that dollar or that thousand dollars, whatever you can do and women around the state are doing that. To me it’s exciting, they always want to say ‘do you want to talk to the man in charge or the woman who knows’? Women know what they want and right now I think they want Todd Akin to be their Senator.
Mefferd: Oh I agree, it is so exciting. Go to JanetMefferd.com, click on that box that says ‘Support Todd Akin, Help Take Back the Senate’ and get involved today.
While speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch Weekly, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said she told her client Todd Akin to withstand the controversy that emerged following his comments on “legitimate rape” just like David Koresh, the Waco compound cult leader whose standoff with the ATF led to over eighty deaths. Conway told Perkins that she advised Akin to survive efforts to “smoke him out” like Koresh until they “realize the guy’s not coming out of the bunker.” She was speaking with Perkins just as the deadline for Akin to drop out passed, and Republican figures such as Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint, including DeMint’s powerful Senate Conservatives Fund, rallied to Akin’s behalf. Conway said she expects even more Republicans to follow Perkins’ lead in rallying behind Akin.
Perkins: The distance between them is narrowing, Todd Akin has bounced back up, and the evidence of that is pretty clear because now you see other Republicans who abandoned him are now taking a second look at the race and realizing just how important this seat is.
Conway: They are and they’re following your lead Tony. You saw former speaker Gingrich there on Todd’s behalf at a fundraiser on Monday, saying it’s just “conventional idiocy” that’s preventing people from backing Todd, and he predicts that come mid-October everyone will be following yours and his lead back to Missouri, with their money. Of course, former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Senator Jim DeMint came out just yesterday to support Todd. I believe that the establishment will have to look at this race and they will have to hold their nose because the first days—and I’ve expressed this to Todd as my client for a while now, I’ve expressed it to him directly—the first day or two where it was like the Waco with David Koresh situation where they’re trying to smoke him out with the SWAT teams and the helicopters and the bad Nancy Sinatra records. Then here comes day two and you realize the guy’s not coming out of the bunker. Listen, Todd has shown his principle to the voters.
At a 2011 “pastor’s briefing” with disgraced pseudo-historian David Barton, Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) recounted an experience of going to jail after protesting against abortion rights. Akin told the audience that he had earlier spoken with “a group of people who had been in jail with me” who were all “involved in the pro-life movement.”
“Don’t tell anybody I’m a jail bird,” Akin said, briefly telling a story about when “a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while and you know how it goes.”
At the event with Barton, who has strongly backed his candidacy and has been campaigning with the embattled candidate, Akin was discussing biblical views on when to submit to governmental authority. Akin’s extreme views on abortion rights and rape are already well-known, but he only gave few details about his time as a “jail bird” during what may have been an illegal blockade of a clinic.
Akin: Yesterday I spoke to a group of people who had been in jail with me, you know don’t tell anybody I’m a jail bird, you know, but there were a bunch of us that were years ago involved in the pro-life movement and the question becomes: the Bible says, ‘rescue the innocent that is being led to slaughter,’ so a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while and you know how it goes, and the question is, is that biblical or not?
UPDATE: Akin confirmed his arrest at a news conference, as reported by the Associated Press.
Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin said Friday that he had been arrested during an anti-abortion protest about two decades ago but didn't provide details of where or when the event occurred.
In a video circulating widely on the Internet Friday, Akin is seen discussing his involvement in an anti-abortion demonstration and says "you know, don't tell anybody I'm a jail bird." He also says in the video that "a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while, and you know how it goes."
Asked at a press conference Friday in Kansas City to confirm the arrest, Akin said: "Yeah, well, certainly. Probably about 25 years ago or so I was involved in some peaceful protests. As I've made very clear I don't apologize for being pro-life. I stand up for the things I believe in."
His campaign promised to provide details of the arrest later Friday.
Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin is organizing a “Common Sense Bus Tour” following Newt Gingrich’s visit to boost the congressman’s embattled campaign. While Akin seems to have lost the support of major GOP figures after he said that it is extremely unlikely for a woman to become pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape,” he has consistently held the support of Religious Right activists who adore his ultraconservative views. Eagle Forum, which is based in St. Louis, sent out this invitation:
Phyllis Schlafly invites you to join her at first stop of the Missouri Common Sense Bus on Tuesday, September 25 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel Ballroom, 800 Washington Avenue St. Louis, Missouri.
You will find encouragement at each stop of the Missouri Common Sense Bus tour across Missouri. Each stop will feature some of Missouri's most well-known conservative leaders who are standing with Todd Akin for U.S. Senate.
With only a few weeks until the election, invite your friends and family to come out to hear why Todd Akin is the right choice to represent common sense in the U.S. Senate. Participants will vary by stop, but include the following:
• Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum
• Dick Bott, Founder of Bott Radio Network
• Rich Bott, President of Bott Radio Network
• Don Hinkle, Editor of "The Pathway" and Director of Public Policy Missouri Baptist Convention
• Bev Ehlen, Missouri President, Concerned Women for America
• Pastor David Smith
• Buddy Smith, Executive Director, American Family Association
While it comes as no surprise that such far-right activists are rallying to Akin’s defense, here is why they may not help Akin improve his image among voters.
I’m not sure what the RNC schedulers were thinking, but Mike Huckabee is set to “legitimate rape” back on the map tonight – a mere two speeches ahead of Paul Ryan. To be sure, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality will be on his best behavior, but Huckabee is inextricably linked with Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. And as we’ll explore, Huckabee’s own record is even more extreme and disturbing than Akin’s.
And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.
Earlier this evening, the Christian Defense Coalition became the first anti-abortion group to call on Todd Akin to withdraw from the Senate race in Missouri. In a statement distributed by the right-wing Christian Newswire, the head of the Christian Defense Coalition, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, described Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” as “offensive, repugnant and troubling.”
Earlier today, Mitt Romney described Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” as “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.” In a separate interview, Romney said, “I can't defend what he said, I can't defend him.”
Mitt Romney is outraged! He's insulted! He's offended!
Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney's own running mate.
Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is attracting plenty of attention for his bizarre and idiotic justification for refusing to allow rape victims to have abortions. But the extreme policy position behind those comments - a policy that is the GOP standard -- should be getting just as much attention.
Akin explained this weekend how rape victims shouldn't be allowed reproductive choice because they already have access to some mysterious anti-pregnancy control system: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Romney responded today in an interview with the National Review:
"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
"I have an entirely different view," Romney said. "What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."
What is Romney's "entirely different view"? That Rep. Akin doesn't have a basic understanding of the female anatomy that he's so interested in legislating? That Akin feels the need to draw a distinction between "legitimate rape" and "illegitimate rape"? That Akin thinks rape victims shouldn't be able to choose whether to carry their rapists' children?
Romney should start by directing his outrage at his own running mate. Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called "personhood" amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the "legitimate rape" nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of "forcible rape" - a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.
Romney himself has flirted with the "personhood" idea, telling Mike Huckabee during the primary that he'd "absolutely" support such a measure. When he was later confronted about the comment at a town hall meeting, it became clear that Romney had no idea how the process he wanted to legislate actually worked.
And Romney hasn't always been keen to stand up for the victims of rape. In a Republican debate in February, he actually got in an argument with Newt Gingrich over who was least in favor of requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims they were treating.
Now the Romney campaign is trying to distance itself from Akin by saying that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." But Romney has also vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning to states the power to outlaw or allow abortion as they choose. If Romney and anti-choice activists get their wish from the Supreme Court, a Romney-Ryan administration would have no power to stop states from imposing whichever abortion bans they decide to impose. The promise to carve out an exception for rape victims is not a promise they would be able to keep.
The real scandal of Rep. Akin's comments isn't the faulty sex-ed he's teaching. Instead, his comments expose the anti-choice movement's skewed and condescending view of women. Akin can't accept that a woman who fits his definition of virtue - the victim of a "legitimate rape" - would also need to seek an abortion, and he has made up false science to support that assumption. But with or without the weird right-wing science, that same false distinction underlies all anti-choice policies - including those embraced by Romney and Ryan.
Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin's misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin's policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.