Fight about Violence Against Women Act takes nasty turn in Ohio

GOP committee revives 1986 domestic violence allegations against Sherrod Brown

By Deidre Shesgreen

May 7, 2012

WASHINGTON — The political fight about the Violence Against Women Act has hit a new level of nasty, at least in Ohio.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out a link Monday to a story, written by a conservative website, reviving 26-year-old domestic violence allegations made against Sen. Sherrod Brown by his wife during a messy divorce.

Brown’s ex-wife, Larke Recchie, since has characterized the allegations she made during the 1986 proceeding as “angry words” made during an “unfriendly ordeal.”

In a statement issued Monday, in the wake of the NRSC’s missive, she criticized Josh Mandel, Brown’s opponent for the U.S. Senate, for “dirty campaigning.”

“I understand that in campaigns you often have to go after your opponent, but Josh Mandel should know better than to go after our family,” said Recchie, who since has remarried. “I ask that he immediately put a stop to this kind of politics. I was proud to support Sherrod in 2006, and I’m proud to support him again this time around against Josh Mandel. Josh Mandel should immediately disavow this kind of dirty campaigning.”

A spokesman for Mandel, Travis Considine, declined to respond to questions.

The NRSC forwarded the story to reporters without comment. The NRSC is the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, charged with helping Republican candidates as the party tries to win control of the chamber this November. Ohio’s contest pitting Brown, a Democrat, against Mandel, his GOP challenger, will be critical to determining the Senate majority in 2013.

The publication that published the story on Recchie’s allegations is the Washington Free Beacon, run by the Center for American Freedom, a conservative advocacy group.

The story comes in the midst of a heated congressional battle about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law that funds programs to help battered women and curb domestic violence and sexual assault.

Brown (along with Ohio’s GOP Sen. Rob Portman) voted in favor of the reauthorization in April, and Brown has highlighted his support for the measure. His campaign also has criticized Mandel for refusing to say whether he would have voted to reauthorize the law. Some Republicans in Congress oppose the Senate version of the reauthorization because it would expand the law to bar shelters from discriminating against gays and lesbians in abusive relationships, provide more temporary visas for battered women who are in the U.S. illegally and extend protection to American Indian women.

“Ohioans deserve to know if Josh Mandel supports reauthorization of the Violence Against Woman Act without any of Josh’s typical sidestepping, question dodging and avoidance of critical issues affecting our state,” a spokesperson for Brown’s campaign said in an email blast to reporters in April. Later that day, Mandel’s campaign issued a statement saying he supported a “clean” reauthorization of the law.

Brown’s campaign spokesman, Justin Barasky, said the NRSC’s decision to circulate the conservative web story is an underhanded attempt to distract from Mandel’s squishiness on the law. Barasky also said it’s typical of Mandel’s “gutter” campaign style.

He pointed to a highly controversial ad that Mandel ran in his 2010 campaign for state treasurer — the post he currently holds — trying to insinuate that his opponent, Kevin Boyce, was a Muslim. (Boyce is a Christian.) Mandel’s campaign eventually pulled that spot after a torrent of criticism.

“Unfortunately it appears Josh Mandel hasn’t changed course from his past smear campaigns of misleading statements and outright lies against his opponents, and has crawled back into the gutter with a despicably false attack on Senator Brown’s family,” Barasky said in a statement.

Source: Newark Advocate