The Washington Post

Women’s groups condemn House speaker for his remarks

The fallout from House Speaker Bill Howell’s comments Thursday continue.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) greets Speaker of the House Bill Howell (R). (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

“The Speaker’s actions are simply a continuation of the rude conduct toward women displayed on the floor of the House of Delegates during the 2012 session,’’ said Katherine Waddell, a former delegate and president of the group. “It is absolutely inexcusable that he would address Anna Scholl in such a patronizing  manner but does indeed show how deeply rooted the good old boy network still is in the Virginia legislature.”

In a testy exchange after a news conference, Howell (R-Stafford) blamed the advocacy group ProgressVA for issuing what he called an inaccurate report in January outlining the legislative influence of the American Legislative Exchange Commission, which he used to lead.

Howell grew frustrated after a line of questioning from Anna Scholl, the executive director of ProgressVA, and after she asked him for clarification, Howell replied: “I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand.’’

Scholl retorted: “I’m a smart girl, actually. I went to the University of Virginia. I benefited from public education in Virginia. I think words with multiple syllables will be just fine for me.”

Virginia Democrats released a video of the exchange, taped by a staffer, and called on Howell to apologize for his “belligerent and mean-spirited attack.” Howell’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The Farm Team, which supports female candidates for office in Virginia, equated it to the national “war on women.”

“Your comment to Anna Scholl belittles every woman in the Commonwealth, including your wife, your daughters-in-law and grand-daughters,’’ said Susan Platt, the group’s co-founder. “We deserve and expect better. On behalf of 51 percent of Virginia’s population, we hope that you apologize to Anna Scholl. It is the very least you can do.”

Read our entire story and check out the video.



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