RICHMOND — Democrats are calling on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to condemn the comments of a major financial backer who recently compared abortion to slavery.
“There’s a point when you become culpable in the killing of other people, because of what the government is making you do,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List, which last month pledged at least $1.5 million to the Republican Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor.
“And that is one of those tipping point moments,” she said. “It happened in slavery when slaves had to be returned to their masters. When we — when our hands are bloodied by this, it becomes a whole ’nother thing.”
Dannenfelser made the comments over the weekend while speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Cuccinelli gave the opening address.
“Ken Cuccinelli should condemn his backer’s ridiculous and offensive comparison of a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health care choices with the atrocious institution of slavery,” Lauren Harmon, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Virginians need to know that, despite his close ties to this radical organization, Cuccinelli rejects this awful rhetoric.”
Cuccinelli is running against former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to succeed term-limited Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).
Cuccinelli’s campaign responded to Democrats’ call to condemn the abortion-slavery comparison by raising questions about two McAuliffe supporters who recently hosted fund-raisers for the Democrat, a longtime confidant of President Bill Clinton.
One of the hosts was Doug Band, a Clinton aide who was the subject of a 2007 Wall Street Journal article, which reported that an Italian citizen named Raffaello Follieri had paid Band $400,000 to help arrange a real estate deal. Follieri, the ex-boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway, was later convicted of cheating investors and was deported after serving time in a U.S. prison.
The other host was John Kinney, a childhood friend of McAuliffe’s from Syracuse. McAuliffe arranged for Kinney and his wife to spend a weekend at the Clinton White House as a reward for raising money for Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign, according to news reports from the time.
“Ken Cuccinelli is focused on issues that matter to Virginia’s middle class, instead of gutter politics peddled by [a] professional fundraiser, Terry McAuliffe,” Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said via e-mail. “But if Terry McAuliffe wants to discuss donors, we are more than willing to oblige: Let’s start with Doug Band, who is connected to a scam artist who served time in prison, or what about John Kinney who – thanks to Terry McAuliffe – got a weekend at the White House for hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.”
Nix declined to comment directly on the slavery-abortion comparison. Dannenfelser responded to Democrats’ complaints about her comments with a prepared statement.
“The SBA List believes in protecting the human rights of mothers and children,” she said. “On the other hand, Terry McAuliffe supports a platform of abortion on-demand at any time, for any reason, paid for by Virginia taxpayers. That means he supports a platform of sex-selective abortion, late-term abortion, partial-birth abortion, and abortions on teenage girls without parental consent – all paid for by Virginia tax payers. In sync with the extreme abortion lobby, he is utterly out of step with Virginia taxpayers.”
McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin declined to say whether Dannenfelser had accurately represented McAuliffe’s position on abortion.
Schwerin responded to her statement by saying that it is “stunning that Ken Cuccinelli is willing to stand with comments comparing women’s health care access to slavery. By standing with the extremist Susan B Anthony List, Cuccinelli is showing once again that his agenda is extreme and dangerous for women’s health in Virginia.”
This post has been updated.