Grimes says women in Arnold case told her Wednesday to keep $250 from disgraced former lawmaker

04/09/2014 06:18 PM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes announced that she spoke Wednesday with two of the state House Democratic staffers who raised the allegations of sexual harassment against former state Rep. John Arnold.

According to the campaign, Grimes talked with Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper about issues affecting women in the workplace and asked them what to do with the $250 campaign contribution Arnold gave her campaign last year.

And the campaign did confirm that Grimes will keep the contribution from Arnold after the conversation with the two women.

The press release reads:

Alison Lundergan Grimes also asked their personal feelings on whether the campaign should return the contributions in question. They unanimously expressed that they want the campaign to “keep it and fight” for the issues important to the women of Kentucky. They added, “We don’t want to be pawns in the political game.”

The Grimes campaign also said Costner and Cooper were “appalled” by the actions of the McConnell campaign regarding the issue. Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement that the McConnell campaign was “taking advantage of female victims of sexual assault to boost his flailing re-election campaign.”

McConnell’s campaign and the Republican Party of Kentucky have made passing references to Costner and Cooper but mostly to make the point that Grimes should answer questions about the Arnold saga. It flared up again Tuesday after the Legislative Ethics Commission did not have enough votes to find Arnold guilty of ethics violations.

The spokeswoman of the Republican Party of Kentucky said in a statement Tuesday that Grimes should comment on the hearing that resulted in Arnold not being charged.

And Wednesday, McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman issued a similar statement before the Grimes campaign released her statement Wednesday about the hearing and decision.

“There is no permission slip for failing to speak out for women who were victimized in the workplace. This isn’t a partisan question, this is a question about whether someone lacks the courage to speak out against her own party when they’ve clearly allowed an incredible injustice to move forward,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement.

McConnell has been working to deflect gender based arguments during his re-election race. For instance, the Senate Minority Leader introduced legislation Tuesday with New Hampshire U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte focused on workplace flexibility that would allow employers to offer time off rather than extra pay to employees who work overtime, a premise he has supported before.

But Grimes has continued to hammer on women’s issues, especially in light of some of McConnell’s other votes. For instance, McConnell voted against a paycheck fairness act on Wednesday. It would have updated the Equal Pay Act to give women more options to challenge employers if they feel they are not being paid at the same level as men.

“McConnell’s latest display is politics at its lowest, and there seems to be no depth Mitch McConnell is unwilling to sink to distract Kentuckians from his failed record of fighting for the Commonwealth’s women and families,” Norton said.

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