Business Group Courts Women, Also Supports Todd Akin

Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT/ ZUMAPRESS.com


It wasn’t all that long ago that Republicans were publicly begging Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin to drop out of the race following his comments about how women who are the victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant. But Akin has managed to rebound, and on Tuesday scored the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), a conservative business group.

NFIB, a non-profit that bills itself as the “voice of small business,” was already supporting Akin’s campaign through a direct mail effort bashing incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. NFIB had also given Akin a $5,000 donation for his House race in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The group also endorsed Wisconsin state Rep. Roger Rivard, the guy who last week recalled a this really classy chestnut from his father: “Some girls, they rape so easy.”

All of this might make NFIB’s current campaign to get women to join seem a little … gross. The group’s “PowHER” campaign offers a variety of prizes, and NFIB pledges to make a donation to breast cancer research for each new member who joins this month. I’m sure many women might be bothered by the fact that their $180 membership fee will help support candidates who think that women are a bunch of lying liars when it comes to rape.

Meanwhile, as my colleague Josh Harkinson has reported, it’s an open question whether NFIB can still legitimately say it represents small businesses. The supposedly nonpartisan group has spent nearly $2 million so far this election season—all of it either in support of Republican candidates or attacking Democrats. As a 501(c)4, the group doesn’t have to disclose its funders—but we do know that it received $3.7 million from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS in 2010 to support its work. The group also launched a new arm earlier this year, The Voice of Free Enterprise Inc., that takes donations from individuals and groups that aren’t small businesses.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.