AUGUSTA – Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett on Tuesday called on his Democratic counterpart to apologize for sexist remarks the top Democrat made regarding Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) and her bill to help victims of human trafficking.
The comment came just days after Democratic leaders on the Legislative Council voted unanimously to kill Volk’s bill, thus preventing it from having a full hearing before the Legislature.
During a Friday interview with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said Volk’s decision to sponsor the human trafficking bill made him “suspicious”.
“This is a Republican party and a conservative legislator who is desperate to try to realign a gender gap that their party faces at the polls, and a representative who needs to kind of soften her hard edges,” Grant said, as reported by MPBN.
House Minority Leader Ken Freddette (R-Newport) called Grant’s remarks “pathetic” and defended Volk.
“I think it’s pathetic that the chairman of the Democratic Party would try to suggest that someone is someone simply putting in a bill related to such a horrific crime as human trafficking as being politically driven by a Republican to simply help their campaign,” said Fredette, according to MPBN.
According to the Maine GOP, Grant’s remarks, in addition to being insulting, display a “shocking ignorance” of the problem of human trafficking in Maine.
“In his ill-informed attempt to defend Democrat legislative leaders irresponsible decision, Ben Grant took partisan shots from the hip before researching the issue,” said Bennett.
“Chairman Grant impugned the motives of Rep. Volk with no evidence, and he owes her an apology,” he said. “While he’s examining motives, he should consider whether leaders in his party considered wine tasting more of an emergency than human trafficking because they didn’t want a Republican woman to lead the charge on an important women’s issue.”
“For the Democrat Chairman to say that Rep. Volk is just trying to ‘soften her edges’ sounds patronizing and sexist,” added Bennett.
“Rep. Volk is a Christian woman who feels strongly about helping people recover from difficult situations; she was involved in an effort at her church to raise money to fight human trafficking well before this bill came out,” he said. “Ben Grant’s attack of her and his minimizing the issue of human trafficking is truly disgraceful and stands in the way of giving some help to women whose lives have been shattered by no fault of their own.”
One other prominent Democrat has followed Grant’s lead in criticizing Volk.
Former Democratic lawmaker Ethan Strimling said on WGAN’s Inside Maine that it was Volk’s fault the Democratic leaders choose to kill her bill.
Strimling then took to Twitter to defend the shocking remark. “In 6 yrs, I never had a bill accepted that I didn’t personally explain to the members,” Strimling tweeted, placing the blame on Volk.
Volk responded: “If it hadn’t been in every newspaper I might have, but I thought they probably read their own propaganda. #mybad”
Maine Wire Reporter