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GOP Rep. holds a 'men only' fundraiser, voted against Violence Against Women Act

Republican Study Committee Anti-Poverty Initiative Chairman Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) speaks during a news conference on the 50th anniversary of the start of the War on Poverty
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Down in the Sunshine State, a Florida Republican held a fundraiser to help his campaign against his Democratic challenger. While that doesn't seem out of the ordinary, the fact that only men were invited seemed to come as a shock.

In an invitation obtained by Buzzfeed on Wednesday, Rep. Steve Southerland's fundraiser, which was held in March, promised a night of, “Good men sitting around discussing & solving political & social problems over fine food & drink date back to the 12th Century with King Arthur’s Round Table.” The invitation went on to note that the men should tell their wives "not to wait up,” and that after dinner the, "whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many."

Southerland is running against Democrat Gwen Graham, whose political positions line up with President Barack Obama. In a statement released by Southerland's campaign, campaign manager Luke Strickland laughed off the criticism and turned his attention to Graham's voting record.

“It is laughable that an issue is being made over an invitation to a private event hosted on Steve’s behalf six months ago...We have also participated in events with women, young professionals, doctors, sportsmen. Rather than focusing on nonsense stories about a private invitation, the media should be holding Gwen Graham accountable for advocating for just about every position on Obamacare — from repealing it, to fixing it, to keeping it. She’s been in the race for over a year and is still afraid to say where she stands. That’s newsworthy.”

Rep. Steve Southerland has represented Florida's 2nd congressional district since 2011, and faces a tough challenge from Gwen Graham. Southerland's "men only" fundraiser only adds fuel to the fire when it comes to the congressman's views on women.

As MSNBC pointed out on Wednesday, Southerland took a lot of heat for voting against the Senate’s bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act, which was ultimately signed into law. Southerland has attempted to cover this criticisms by noting he voted for the failed bill that was proposed in the House, which didn't include specific protections for domestic violence victims who were members of the LGBT community, Native American or undocumented immigrants.

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