It’s never OK to say a candidate for office is pro-rape

Can we all agree on something? Nobody – Republican or Democrat – is pro-rape. Even the confused Republican Senate candidates who said rape cannot result in pregnancy or that, if it does, it’s something God intended, agree that rape is bad.

Yet it seems we need a reminder after some of the attack ads deployed this cycle.

It was bad enough when Democratic Assembly Speaker John Oceguera falsely accused Republican Rep. Joe Heck of trying to impose restrictions on abortions for rape victims. (Heck had voted for a bill to bar federal funds for abortions, with an explicit exception for victims of rape; Oceguera cited an abortion-rights group that claimed the bill could have resulted in “rape audits” by the IRS.)

But that ad pales in comparison to a flier attacking Democratic Assemblyman Marcus Conklin in the close 37th District race, paid for by a PAC run by fellow Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas.

“Children are being kidnapped, raped, pimped and beaten because leaders like Assemblyman Marcus Conklin refused to act,” the flier reads, with a man’s hand covering a scared girl’s mouth. We read the reverse side to learn that leaders such as Conklin refused to allow votes on four pieces of legislation aimed at stopping abductions, rapes, beatings and forced prostitution.

“Who is worse the pimps who commit these acts or the legislators who turn their heads?” the flier asks.

That’s easy: The pimps.

Here are some facts: First, abduction, rape, beating and forced prostitution of children are already against the law in Nevada. The state is in full compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

Second, three of the four bills in question were introduced by Hambrick himself, and he’s obviously displeased that his legislation stalled.

Third, three of the four bills died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and Conklin doesn’t even sit on the Judiciary Committee! (A fourth bill passed the committee but never came up for a vote on the Assembly floor.)

Assemblyman William Horne, who chaired the Judiciary Committee in 2011, said he never had any conversations with Conklin or Oceguera about Hambrick’s bills.

“I think Hambrick is very off-base here,” Horne said. “It’s really, really despicable. John’s been there long enough to know we’ve all been diligent about this type of crime.”

Fourth, and finally, Conklin himself has taken a leadership role in fighting child sex trafficking. In 2007, for example, he was one of the primary sponsors of AB 383, which created the crime of trafficking in persons and made it a category B felony, punishable by 10 years in prison.

“This flier is so over the top and completely uncharacteristic of my actual record,” Conklin said. “It makes you angry any time that you see somebody is discrediting your reputation with something that you know is absolutely false.”

Hambrick stood by the flier on Monday.

“Obviously, we have a respectful disagreement,” he said. “Could there have been some wordsmithing? Perhaps.”

But Hambrick said he’s been unfairly attacked in fliers, too: one depicting him as the puppet master of Conklin’s Republican foe, Wesley Duncan, and another claiming Hambrick was “extreme” and would deny abortion for rape victims.

But none alleged Hambrick or Duncan were enabling kidnapping, child rape or prostitution.

It’s understandably frustrating for minority Republicans to see their legislation ignored in the Democrat-controlled Assembly, especially when they believe they have good ideas to advance the public interest. And yes, politics is not for the thin-skinned. But to accuse a person without justification of facilitating kidnapping, rape and sexual exploitation of children is just beyond the pale.

On that, we should all agree.

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at (702) 387-5276 or ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.

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