We are a week away from the election and the battle over the 3rd Senate District is heating up with the National Women’s Political Caucus of California issuing a statement late Monday that strongly condemned Senate candidate Bill Dodd’s claim to leadership for women’s rights in the race for Senate District 3 in the June primary.
They attacked Mr. Dodds’ claims in campaign mailers and ads “to have ‘led’ the fight for equal pay for equal work.
Karen Humphrey, Vice-President for Political Action for NWPC California and President of NWPC Sacramento, which is a 45-year-old group dedicated to electing progressive and pro-choice women to public office, called Mr. Dodd out for “pretending to be a ‘leader’ for pay equity,” an issue they say was actually pushed by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and the Legislative Women’s Caucus. That effort led to passage of Sen. Jackson’s SB 358 in 2015, the nation’s strongest equal pay bill; it expands mechanisms women can use to assure they are fairly paid while prohibiting retaliation by their employers.
Noting that NWPC has enthusiastically endorsed former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada for the Senate seat, Ms. Humphrey accused Dodd of political posturing. “The bill on which Mr. Dodd bases his claim to leadership,” says Ms. Humphrey, “is his Johnny-come-lately tweak to the successful work of Senator Jackson, work that was long supported by former Assemblymember Yamada when she was in the Women’s Legislative Caucus. Dodd’s new bill is nowhere near passage, and his previous effort to tweak equal pay laws around the edges was vetoed. His bill adds nothing significant to the accomplishments of Senator Jackson and other women legislators and does not merit the label of ‘leadership.’
“I guess Mr. Dodd recognizes the critical importance of the women’s vote and his need to pander to it because he is running against an accomplished and committed feminist former woman legislator who can be counted on to support women’s issues in legislation. But District 3 voters should not be fooled. They don’t need to support a ‘faux feminist’ when they can vote for a real leader for women: Mariko Yamada.
“The Caucus was proud to endorse Mariko Yamada when she served in the Assembly, and we believe she is by far the best candidate to be the next Senator from District 3. California must continue expanding women’s representation in the legislature, and we need Mariko Yamada’s voice in the Senate,” continued Ms. Humphrey.
The attack did not sit well with Bill Dodd consultant Matthew Reilly. He said in the TV spot, the claim was that Bill Dodd “co-authored the toughest equal pay law in the country.” In fact, he said, “The facts are: Bill (Dodd) co-authored SB 358, the toughest pay equity law in the country. Anyone who disputes this is lying.”
Assemblymember Dodd in February 2015 introduced AB 1354 which enacted “the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2015. The bill would require an employer with 100 or more employees in state, as specified, and a contract of 30 days or more, prior to becoming a contractor or subcontractor with the state, to submit a nondiscrimination program to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and to submit periodic reports no more than annually of its compliance with that program.”
Mr. Reilly called this last second “desperation” and a “last-hour, politically motivated lie.” He said, “Within the first 100 days of being sworn into office, Bill also introduced legislation to require state contractors to disclose what they pay their workers. One of the largest barriers to stopping pay discrimination is the lack of data available to policy makers. That is a fact national pay equity groups have put forward and Bill has taken leadership on. Anyone who disputes this is lying.”
He added, “This attack from an insider group at the 11th hour of the campaign, says more about them and Ms. Yamada than it does about Bill. “
—David M. Greenwald reporting