A few years ago, some vengeful Democrats and a not insubstantial coterie of cowardly Republicans in Harrisburg effectively destroyed the promising political career of Nick Miccarelli.
A Delco native and combat veteran, Nick championed the rights of the military, their families and the interests of everyone living in his district regardless of political affiliation. In 2018, he was accused of sexual harassment and assault by three women. Many of the allegations weren’t proven, but this was at the height of the #MeToo movement which saw the attempted character assassination of a Supreme Court Justice (a few years before the actual assassination attempt,) the firing of numerous high profile media personalities and the resignation of a US Senator for taking some raunchy photos.
In that climate, Nick didn’t stand a chance. The wolves came for him, and they were bipartisan. The Democrats made him out to be a violent ex-soldier with issues ranging from PTSD to misogyny, while the Republicans did what Republicans in Pennsylvania often do: hid their heads in the sand and let their political opponents have a clean shot at one of their own.
At the time, I wrote numerous articles excoriating the blatant attempt to take out a Republican legislator because he was conservative, effective, and unapologetic about his politics and his faith. This is what I said in the Delaware County Times on March 24, 2018:
“I call BS on the GOP leadership who, scared of its own shadow in this dicey #MeToo environment, abandoned the long term legislator who had served the party well over many years with its calls for his resignation. Shame on all of them, too many to name.
I call BS on the Democrats, relatively quiet during the Miccarelli witch hunt, who sat back and smiled as the GOP cannibalized one of its own, even though those members who might have thought that in the wake of what was done to Sen. Daylin Leach, it might be the time to stage a bipartisan attack using “impeachment by innuendo.”
My central point was that both parties were expert at trying to pander to the societal mandate of “Believe women,” even when they didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
I still believe that to be the problem, but equally toxic is the disparate treatment of some alleged abusers, based upon their political affiliation or more importantly, utility to the party at any given moment. Right now, for the first time in recent history, the Democrats have seized control of the House. Joanna McClinton is now the majority leader and used the position to emphasize her promise that sexual abusers had no place in the capitol. In one of her first public pronouncements as Majority Leader, she stated that “As the first woman House Majority Leader, I can affirm that discrimination or harassment will be treated with seriousness and urgency. As we move into regular session, our House Rules will include a fair process for any allegations.”
Then, she went into a rant about how the now minority caucus — i.e. the GOP — hadn’t cared at all about protecting the rights of abuse victims. She borrowed the rhetoric and the brimstone delivery from black preachers, and drew a line in the sand warning that there was apparently a new sheriff in town who actually cared about victims.
In light of what the Democrats are now doing, it’s rich. There is a person in the Democratic caucus who has been accused by someone who has gone on the record of sexual harassment. As detailed in a powerful piece by Broad and Liberty’s Todd Shepherd last week, that the yet-unnamed legislator has been accused of groping a lobbyist:
“Andi Perez, a lobbyist for the SIEU, told House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D) at a listening session in late January that a sitting member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives touched her inappropriately. ‘This lawmaker decided to caress my leg — I was wearing a skirt — all the while telling me he was impressed by my passion and knowledge of the issues we were discussing. I moved away from him, hoping he would stop,’ Perez said. ‘He did not.’”
Shepherd added that the identity of the lawmaker was one of the “worst kept secrets” in Harrisburg’s political circles, but that since Perez had not publicly named him, he would not reveal his identity.
And to be clear, Shepherd shouldn’t be the one revealing his identity. The House Democrats, who clearly know to whom Perez was referring, should be pointing fingers and openly demanding either his resignation or at least an explanation and accounting of his actions. They were quite happy to sit back and watch as Republicans destroyed the reputation of Nick Miccarelli, all the while flashing their Cheshire Cat smiles at the downfall of a political adversary.
And again, let’s not forget what they did to Daylin Leach, who was never credibly accused of any bad acts other than telling inappropriate jokes. His leadership at that point was quite willing to throw him under the bus for political expediency.
That’s what is going on here. It is rank hypocrisy for McClinton to pretend that Democrats care about the rights of victims, when they are circling the wagons around a serpent at their own collective breast. The refusal to name the accused is in stark contrast to what they did with Leach, and what they allowed their Republican colleagues to do to Micarelli. And it stinks.
If this is the new normal for Democrats, as it clearly appears to be, then we can dispense with the pretense that they care about victims’ rights. The whole #MeToo debacle can be viewed as a partisan fraud, now that they are in a position of power. McClinton can emote all she wants about the Democrats being honest brokers, but unless they come out, now, and name the accused, they are hypocrites of the highest order.
And you know who else displays hypocrisy? The media. I looked for some news about this story in The Inquirer, the Capitol Star, Spotlight PA and all the other news outlets that were so interested in stories about alleged sexual abuse and came up with nothing. Nothing from the local broadcast media. No response to Rep Martina White’s letter seeking transparency.
Complete self-imposed gag order, emphasis on the gag. A complete failure on the part of the Fourth Estate.
So, what’s it going to be, Madame Majority Leader? True accountability for abusers? Or deep cover for the abusers who’ll vote the way you want them to?
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61