PAC for People with Disabilities Demands McDonnell Apology
A political action committee in Northern Virginia that advocates on behalf of people with disabilities is calling on gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell to apologize for remarks made by a top supporter that mocked state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds's manner of speaking.
The controversy arose after Sheila Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who is backing McDonnell, mimicked Deeds's talking style during a Sept. 25 campaign event as she criticized his inability to communicate effectively. A video of her remarks has received a lot of play on the Web since its posting this week by liberal blogger Ben Tribbett.
"Sheila Johnson enjoys the same freedom of speech that all Americans have, but we are appalled and saddened that she used a political speech and introduction of the Republican candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell to laugh at people who have speech impediments," said Martha J. Toomey, a co-founder of disAbility Votes. The PAC, which is endorsing Deeds, has also supported candidates seeking to broaden insurance coverage for children with autism. "We are especially concerned that the message Mr. McDonnell seems to be endorsing is that of a playground bully making fun of a child who has disabilities. This is unacceptable."
Johnson later apologized. Earlier Tuesday, McDonnell declined to apologize for Johnson's remarks, saying that she had issued a statement "she believed was appropriate."
-- Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Editors
October 6, 2009; 5:53 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Fredrick Kunkle , Robert F. McDonnell
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