Molly Redden

Molly Redden


Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

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Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

GOP Candidate Who Made Marital Rape Remarks Drops Out of Congressional Race

| Thu Jan. 23, 2014 12:48 PM EST

Richard H. "Dick" Black, the Republican congressional candidate notorious for questioning whether marital rape should be a crime, announced Wednesday that he had dropped out of the running for the Republican nomination in Virginia's 10th district.

In an email to a conservative Virginia blog, Black explained that he was dropping his bid in order to remain in the Virginia Senate, which is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. (Virginia's lieutenant governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, can cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.) Black wrote that he made the decision after meeting with Republican caucus leaders in Richmond.

Black's campaign was extremely short-lived and controversial from the start. He filed to run on January 8, just two weeks ago. In that time period, Mother Jones reported on Black's history of controversial remarks, including a statement he made in 2002 when the Virginia House, where Black served at the time, was weighing legislation to allow prosecutions in cases of marital rape. Black said: "I don't know how on earth you could validly get a conviction in a husband-wife rape when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a nightie and so forth. There's no injury, there's no separation, or anything."

Black also deemed emergency contraception, which does not cause abortions, to be "baby pesticide." In the 1990s, to demonstrate why libraries should block pornography on their computers, Black invited a TV reporter to film him using a library terminal to watch violent rape porn—prompting the only complaints Loudoun County librarians had ever received about a library patron viewing pornography.

Black would have stood a good chance of capturing the GOP nomination if Republican officials had chosen to select a candidate by convention rather than by primary. Conservatives have dominated Virginia's conventions in recent years, and Black commands substantial support among the conservative grassroots. But many moderate GOP officials worried that Black, like other Republican nominees selected by convention, would prove too unpalatable to win a general election. The open seat Black was vying for had belonged for more than two decades to Rep. Frank Wolf, a moderate Republican.

Each election cycle, local Virginia Republican officials can decide anew whether to nominate candidates in their districts through a primary or through a convention. GOP officials in the 10th district will decide between those two options today. But without Black in the race, the odds favor state Rep. Barbara Comstock, who is well-connected to the Republican establishment. Comstock is best known for operating a secret defense fund for Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's former chief-of-staff who was convicted in 2007 of leaking information that compromised CIA operative Valeria Plame, and for her feverish stint as an opposition researcher against Hillary Clinton in the 1990s.

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Rich GOP Donor Gets Lawmaker to Draft a Bill to Lower His Child Support Payments

| Mon Jan. 13, 2014 12:55 PM EST

After Michael Eisenga, a wealthy GOP donor and Wisconsin business owner, failed to convince several courts to lower his child support payments, he came up with an inventive plan B—he recruited a Republican state legislator to rewrite Wisconsin law in his favor.

A set of documents unearthed Saturday by the Wisconsin State Journal shows Eisenga and his lawyer, William Smiley, supplying detailed instructions to Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch on how to word legislation capping child support payments from the wealthy. Kleefisch began work on the legislation last fall, weeks after an appeals court rejected Eisenga's attempts to lower his child support payments.

For example, in a September 13 letter, a drafting lawyer with Wisconsin's legislative services bureau complained to a Kleefisch aide, "It's hard to fashion a general principle that will apply to only one situation."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eisenga's current child support payments for the three children he has with his ex-wife are set at $216,000 a year. (Per the couple's prenuptial agreement, the divorce settlement left his $30 million in assets untouched.)

Current law instructs judges to calculate child support as a percentage of income, with no cap and the option to include assets. Under Kleefisch's bill, which making its way through the Wisconsin statehouse, payments would top out at $150,000 annually, and judges would be prohibited from taking assets into account when determining child support. The bill also includes language that would allow Eisenga to restart court proceedings over his child support payments, as it requires courts to slash such payments if they are 10 percent higher than they would be under the new cap.

In 2010, Eisenga donated $10,000 to Kleefisch and his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, according to the Journal Sentinel. Eisenga also donated $15,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The drafting documents, available on the Wisconsin legislature's website, leave little not doubt that the bill was written to Eisenga's specifications. According to the documents, on September 5, Eisenga's lawyer briefed him on changes he was suggesting to a draft of Kleefisch's bill. "We focused only on the portion that would require the court to modify your child support order based solely on the passage of the bill," Smiley wrote. Eisenga then forwarded that letter to Kleefisch and one of his aides, saying, "Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill." The next day, Kleefisch's aide forwarded the letter to the legislative lawyer drafting the bill.

A hearing for the bill is scheduled Wednesday before the Assembly Family Law Committee.

Eisenga and Smiley declined to speak to local news outlets about their emails with Kleefisch. On Saturday, Kleefisch told the Journal, "I do a gamut of legislation with the help and assistance of many, many constituents, and whether they gave a contribution or not has not made a difference."

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