The New Mexico Political Report recently published comments from Mick Rich, New Mexico’s Republican candidate for the United States Senate. The focus of the story was whether he and fellow candidate Gary Johnson had reconsidered their support for Brett Kavanaugh to serve as our next Supreme Court Justice in light of the allegation of sexual assault against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Rather than condemning sexual assault, Mr. Rich instead broadly dismissed the allegations because of Kavanaugh’s age when it occurred, “I would like to see Martin Heinrich go to a high school and tell those students, ‘If you went to a party and behaved inappropriately, you have no future.”
Mr. Rich’s efforts to shrug off a case of sexual assault as simply a youthful indiscretion is a textbook example of how people and institutions of authority perpetuate a culture that pressures survivors into staying quiet about the crimes committed against them. According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the vast majority of rapes against both women and men remain unreported to police or sexual violence support organizations. In 2009, only 1 in 9.5 adult rapes came to the attention of law enforcement.
This statistic, while incredibly discouraging, should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Kavanaugh case. We have heard a litany of excuses from “it was so long ago,” to “why didn’t she report it?” and of course, outright dismissals that the incident ever took place.
Rich went on to say that Ford’s name being leaked to the public “was about as abusive as what happened to her back then.”
The reality is that our culture of rejecting sexual assault claims will continue as long as people who are in positions of power use their perches to first blame survivors, cast aspersions on their credibility and character, and minimize the trauma they have experienced.
That’s why we take Rich’s comments as more than just hurtful and wrong. He used his platform to undermine survivors everywhere, and to remind those who have committed these acts that there are any number of excuses they can use to explain why their actions don’t count, and their crimes don’t matter.
We ask that Mick Rich not just issue an apology, but to articulate that he understands the severity of his words, and that in the future he will support survivors rather than contributing to their silence. We believe that anything short of this disqualifies Mick Rich from representing the people of New Mexico.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Candidate for Governor
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver
Former New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid
Former U.S. Senator Fred Harris
Speaker Brian Egolf
Senate Majority Whip Mimi Stewart
Senator Howie Morales, Candidate for Lt. Governor
Rep. Debbie Armstrong
Rep. Gail Chasey
Rep. Liz Thomson
Rep. Nathan Small
Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero
Rep. Javier Martinez
Rep. Angelica Rubio
Rep. Matthew McQueen
Bernalillo County Assessor Tanya Giddings
Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller
Deb Haaland, Candidate N.M. Congressional District 1
Xochitl Torres Small, Candidate N.M. Congressional District 2
Brian Colon, Candidate for State Auditor
Joy Garratt, Candidate N.M. House 29
Abbas Ahkil, Candidate N.M. House 20
Andrea Romero, Candidate N.M. House 46
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, Candidate for Land Commissioner
Marg Elliston, Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico
Joe Kabourek, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico
Dr. Ellen Bernstein, President, Albuquerque Teachers Federation
Kathy Chavez, AFT National Vice President; AFT NM Executive Vice President; President, Albuquerque Educational Assistants & Transportation Workers Association
Stephanie Ly, President, AFT
Indigenous Women Rising
Southwest Women’s Law Center
AFSCME Council 18
Equality New Mexico
Brava Media New Mexico
New Mexico Asian Family Center
University of New Mexico College Democrats
Young Democrats of New Mexico
New Mexico Federation of Labor
Jessie Lane Hunt
Joan Lamunyon Sanford
Lorraine Code, Distinguished Research Prof York University Canada
MP Schildmeyer, Chair, Democratic Party of San Juan County
Diane Gibson, Albuquerque City Councilor
Ursula Shepherd, Professor
*List updated Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 3:50pm
Stand with survivors and add your name to the open letter to Mick Rich.