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January 25, 2015

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Letter from Washington:

Sen. Dean Heller both praised and criticized for support of act


Harry Hamburg / AP

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is seen in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

The Senate vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act last week was in many ways the least exciting thing to happen on Capitol Hill: Between a Supreme Court hearing on Arizona’s immigration law and a fight over the interest rate on education loans, the 68-to-31 vote on the VAWA wasn’t even a nail-biter.

But in the Nevada Senate race, it’s highly charged politics.

Last month, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., became the 60th senator to support the VAWA — a significant number because it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.

Top Democrats praised him for it.

“I am grateful that Sen. Heller has joined as a co-sponsor of this important bill,” Judiciary Committee Chairman and chief bill sponsor Pat Leahy,D-Vermont, said at the time. “The Violence Against Women Act has always been, and continues to be, a bipartisan priority.”

Heller’s vote didn’t fit into Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley’s full-throated campaign efforts to paint Heller — whom Berkley is challenging for the Senate in November — as “anti-woman.”

That effort started when Heller supported the Blunt amendment, a measure to let businesses opt out of providing health care coverage for anything religiously or morally objectionable, such as birth control. But it hit a frenzied pitch when Berkley tried to tie Heller to Rush Limbaugh’s errant insults of a pro-birth control activist — charges Heller repeatedly obviated or deflected.

Now in the wake of the Violence Against Women Act vote, Berkley’s camp is attempting to resurrect the refrain.

“One inconsistent, out-of-character vote seven months from an election cannot erase Sen. Heller’s votes to gut millions of dollars in domestic violence assistance, to restrict access to birth control and to kill equal pay for equal work legislation,” Nevada Democrats’ spokesman Zach Hudson wrote in a statement.

To further the point, Hudson pointed to Heller’s votes against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his vote on the Blunt amendment and his opposition to the stimulus bill — $2 million of the $787 billion dollar package would have gone to funding the VAWA.

But Heller spent the week striking a fairly woman-sympathetic tone — and reminding voters that in the midst of the Berkley campaign’s effort to paint him as misogynistic, Berkley admitted to reporters that she really didn’t think Heller was anti-woman.

“Violence in all forms is unacceptable, but in this place, it is particularly horrifying,” Heller said on the Senate floor last week, adding that “women and children often feel powerless to escape abusive or dangerous situations, which too often end in tragedy,” and calling statistics about violence against women in Nevada “sickening and unacceptable.”

As Berkley and Heller debate the political significance to Nevadans of his VAWA vote, Nevada continues to have a significant domestic violence problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nevada ranks first among states for the number of women — almost half — who have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives. According to the Violence Policy Center, Nevada is also first in the nation for the incidence of women murdered in acts of domestic violence — a position the state has held for four of the past five years.

“Violence against women is something that runs across all ages, ethnicities and races,” said Lisa Lynn Chapman, spokeswoman for SafeNest, the largest shelter, advocacy and domestic violence victims’ service provider in Nevada. “This is an equal-opportunity crime. It’s one of the few issues that shouldn’t be politicized. ... It’s not a partisan issue, and it should never be a partisan issue.”

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  1. I'm not fooled by just one vote.

    Senator Heller was appointed. Not elected. Not even popularly elected. APPOINTED. Appointed by another Tea/Republican (Sandoval) to replace a completely disgraced Tea/Republican who, if he stayed in office any longer, would have been censured and thrown out on his keester (Ensign).

    To point at one good vote and it's supposed to negate the others is not going to work.

    Senator Heller is down on record as voting for the first Ryan Plan not once but twice. And all indications show he totally endorses Ryan Plan 2.0 Amped Up To The Max To Ensure Not Only Granny Is Thrown Over The Cliff, But Kicked Repeatedly In The Face Before Plummeting Over The Precipice.

    The truth of the matter is the ENTIRE Tea/Republican Party, from the lowest levels to the State levels to the national level, has done nothing but perform a sustained and constant assault on anything regarding women.

    Perhaps Senator Heller is blameless in some forms one way or the other, but the simple fact is that he is associated with a political party that makes a habit of this. Which makes him a loyal foot soldier in the attacks against an entire gender.

    For this he is going to pay in the next election. Not only because of that, but because the Tea/Republican Party has lost any and all rights to this Senate Seat in Nevada.

    This is going to Berkley in November 2012. We've had enough of Tea/Republican stupid games that get us nowhere except to prop up some idiotic agenda that does nothing but attack the middle class.

    The voters out here need to send a message.

    President Obama for another four years.

    AND a Democratic Party majority in the House and the Senate.

    To Heck with Heller and to Heller with Heck.

  2. "Violence against women is something that runs across all ages, ethnicities and races," said Lisa Lynn Chapman, spokeswoman for SafeNest, the largest shelter, advocacy and domestic violence victims' service provider in Nevada. "This is an equal-opportunity crime. It's one of the few issues that shouldn't be politicized. ... It's not a partisan issue, and it should never be a partisan issue."

    I don't know Ms. Chapman, but I have to question how "equal-opportunity" SafeNest is with male DV victims and their children.

    VAWA has been a disaster from the beginning, especially in how it infected government at every level with rabidly anti-male policies. Much of that was directed against fathers who often found themselves in "family" courts with VAWA-corrupted judges' thumbs heavy on the scales. Injustice to families has reigned supreme since then, and the Bill of Rights suspended. Society continues to reap the penalties of fatherless children and lives ruined by false accusations.

    Let the flaming begin...

    "'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble,.... 'the law is a ass -- a idiot.'" -- Charles Dickens, "Oliver Twist"

  3. Domestic violence happens with BOTH genders. Especially during this time and age, where violence and criminal acts are commited nearly equally between males and females. There has been more favor towards women due to the "mother factor" when there are children in the picture, the courts NOT wanting to break up family units. I do know of men who are victims of domestic violence.

    Really, we all are best served when governance is gender neutral and nonpartisan.

    One thing I don't particularly think feels right about Senator Heller, is his leanings on Yucca Mountain. No Republican can be trusted to say "NO" to the high level radioactive waste repository here in Nevada. He is keeping his cards close on that one.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. Re ALL. Heller is a political hack, and will say and do anything necessary to achieve his goal: election. As a GOP representative in Nevada's second district, he only had to walk and chew gum to get reelected. Now, he faces the entire state electorate to be ACTUALLY elected to the US SENATE. He was APPOINTED, not elected to his current position. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing and represents BS teapublican views and positions, and always will.