The National Organization for Women is urging voters to stay far, far away from this election’s two comeback candidates: disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is running for comptroller, and former Congressman Anthony Weiner, a candidate for mayor.
Advocates with the pro-women’s group, which has endorsed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor, held a press conference on the steps of City Hall today where they slammed the two redemption-seeking polls as anti-women.
“We need to be very clear that this prostitution scandal is not a victimless crime. His prostitution scandal is a crime, a crime for which he has yet to answer for. A crime that he has not been held accountable for. And Eliot Spitzer is not above the law,” said NOW-NYC President Sonio Ossorio, who stood in front of a row of women holding signs reading, “Can’t trust a John with our DOUGH,” and, “Spitzer: woman won’t forget.”
Ms. Ossorio lumped Mr. Spitzer, who was forced to resign as governor five years ago in a prostitution scandal, together with Mr. Weiner, who was forced to resign as congressman after a sexting scandal, and disgraced ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who has been accused of sexually harassing staffers and is now running for City Council.
“Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner and Vito Lopez, all three think they can mistreat women and that women voters are going to dash to the polls to bring them back, to elect them to represent them,” she said. “Let’s not let that happen. The question for voters is: Are these men really going to be in tune to the needs of women or are they just going to see us as objects? … We expect more from out elected leaders.”
She further questioned both men’s judgement in allowing themselves to put their careers at risk in exchange for sexual satisfaction. “When you risk so much and you just throw it all down the drain ’cause you want to send pictures of your genitalia to women? I mean, we can do better that. There are so many smart, great candidates,” she said.
Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the Women’s City Club, who also spoke at the press conference, said that prostitution is just one part of the larger sex-trafficking industry and slammed Mr. Spitzer for participating–despite having previously passed “transformational legislation” clamping down on trafficking as attorney general and governor.
“Any public or elected official who desecrates and demeans women in whichever form, from sexual harassment to purchasing women for sex, does not grasp principles of equality,” she said.
Mr. Spitzer acknowledged during an interview last night that he believes prostitution is indeed exploitative–and has repeatedly asked voters for forgiveness, like Mr. Weiner.
Spokeswomen for both candidates did not immediately respond to requests for comment in response.
Update (4:14 p.m.):
Mr. Weiner’s spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, responded with a statement, applauding Mr. Weiner’s record on women’s issues and dismissing the group’s attacks.
“Anthony is proud to have worked shoulder to shoulder for decades with NOW on issues like reproductive choice, single payer health care and pay equity,” she said. “We understand that Anthony’s opponents and their supporters are going to resort to the old politics playbook of negative attacks, but it won’t deter Anthony from continuing to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it there.”