Vitter scandal ignored by conservative women’s groups

VITTER SCANDAL IGNORED BY CONSERVATIVE WOMEN’S GROUPS…. It’s tempting to think the biggest scandal facing Sen. David Vitter (R), the scandal-plagued Louisianan seeking re-election this year, would be the prostitutes he hired after running on a conservative “family values” platform. But the Brent Furer controversy is proving to be every bit as interesting.

To briefly recap, Furer is the aide Vitter kept on his taxpayer-financed payroll, despite Furer having held his ex-girlfriend hostage, threatening to kill her, and attacking her with a knife. The right-wing senator knew about this, and not only kept Furer on his staff, but tasked him with helping oversee women’s issues for the office. Making matters worse, Vitter seemed to lie about this last week.

Women’s groups and anti-domestic violence activists aren’t pleased with the developments.

One group, the National Organization for Women, has even called on the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee to censure Vitter for his apparent acceptance of the behavior of the former aide, Brent Furer.

“This is not just Sen. Vitter making another lapse in judgment,” Terry O’Neill, president of NOW, told ABC News. “This is about his utter disdain for the women of this country. It’s important for the ethics committee to address this if the U.S. Senate wants to have standards that actually respect women.”

But what about conservative women’s groups? As organizations committed to gender equality grew in strength and influence years ago, conservatives pushed back with right-wing groups and leaders like Concerned Women for America and Phyllis Schlafly.

It led Brian Beutler to raise a very good question: what do they think about Vitter paying an aide who violently attacked his girlfriend to oversee women’s issues?

Last week, TPM reached out to several conservative women’s organizations, both on the national level and in the state of Louisiana, for comment on Vitter’s actions. Few of them responded at all.

There were two exceptions. First, the Independent Women’s Forum explicitly declined to comment. Second, current president of the Louisiana chapter of Concerned Women for America, Sonya Hodnett (who has only been at the helm for a few weeks) agreed to comment pending the approval of the national organization, but ultimately did not. The national chapter did not respond.

It’s almost as if right-wing women’s groups are primarily concerned with partisan politics above all else. This is the kind of thing that would damage the credibility of an organization — if these groups had any real credibility in the first place.