As I reported last week, in response to an ad on the debt-ceiling negotiations, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) issued a ludicrous broadside against Concerned Women for America, accusing the group of having “lobbied Congress against child pornography protection.” CWA fired back, demanding an apology since the group is devoted to anti-pornography measures.
The Tester campaign e-mailed me: “According to this link, Concerned Women for America opposed H.R. 1161, the Child Obscenity and Pornography Prevention Act (a bipartisan bill introduced by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas) in the 108th Congress.” I responded by pointing out that CWA’s opposition to that bill made clear it thought the bill actually weakened existing law. I asked for a phone number to contact Tester, but he did not reply.
I contacted Penny Nance from CWA on Friday afternoon. She pointed out that, for starters, the bill Tester pointed to was eight years ago and that Tester didn’t identify one particular bill but attacked CWA falsely for generic opposition to anti-pornography legislation. She e-mailed me the following:
CWA has spent the last 30 plus years as the protector of children and families against the evil of child pornography as well as against obscenity and indecency. We have gone to great effort and expense to work in both the states and Washington to 1) advocate good public policy and 2) force DOJ to do their job in enforcement.
Tester’s response shows their ignorance of the issue. In their effort to do slimy opposition research they didn’t take the time to check their facts. CWA’s concern with the bill in question was the provision that further codified the Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition decision and created an affirmative defense that makes it more difficult for the prosecution of pedophiles. The practical reality of this bill’s language is that all over the nation prosecutors have to show birth certificates in order prove that the pictures are of real children. Sometimes this is difficult to do because either they don’t know the kids or really traumatic because the children in question are now adults and have to be reminded of the assault all over again. . . . Senator Jon Tester’s campaign lied when they accused us of not protecting children. He needs to apologize or keep hearing from me for months to come. This an attack on the very character of our organization. I have no choice but to fight back. We won’t be bullied.
In a phone interview she told me, “I would love to have a discussion with [Sen. Tester]. I will be happy to debate him anytime, any place.”Her tone was calm, but she left no doubt she intends to defend her organization against what she sees as a scurrilous attack. Unless Tester wants to embroil himself in an ongoing and very public spat on an issue he surely wants no part of, he might want to do what the lady asked.