VA Speaker And Ex-ALEC Chair Berates Woman — ‘I’m Not Speaking In Little Enough Words For You To Understand’

Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R)

Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R)

ProgressVA recently released a report on the legislative influence of the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — which began hemorrhaging donors in the wake of a campaign raising awareness of its efforts to disenfranchise voters and enact Florida-style “stand your ground” laws. The group noted that the Commonwealth of Virginia has spent $232,000 of taxpayer’s dollars over the past decade to send legislators to ALEC conferences and meetings.

Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R), himself a national board member of ALEC and its 2009 national chairman, took issue with the report and called it “inaccurate.”

In an exchange caught on camera, Howell berates the group’s executive director Anna Scholl, mocking the group’s website and her. Howell criticizes the Washington Post’s article about the group’s as “full of half-truths or un-truths.”

In a failed attempt to back up his accusation, Howell notes that while the Commonwealth paid about $230,000 on ALEC-related expenses, it spent even more on travel for the same and other legislators to attend conferences by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislators.

When by Scholl pressed as to how omission of that irrelevant detail constituted an inaccuracy, Howell berated her:

I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand.

When Scholl responded to the slight, telling him “I’m a smart girl, actually I went to the University of Virginia,” more than capable of understanding polysyllabic words. Howell curtly replied, “We’ll good for you.”

Watch the video:

On a day when Republicans desperately are trying to play down their “war on women,” this apparent sexism by the man who presided over and backed House passage of a forced trans-vaginal ultrasound bill so extreme that even Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) wouldn’t support, hardly helps their cause.


The Farm Team, a group whose goal is “to recruit, support and elect Democratic women to ALL levels of elected office in the Commonwealth of Virginia” released a statement in response to Howell’s comments:

Speaker Howell, the women of Virginia understand lots of big, multiple syllable words, like discrimination, trans-vaginal probe, and denial of preventative health care services. Your comment to Anna Scholl belittles every woman in the Commonwealth, including your wife, your daughters-in-law and grand-daughters.. We deserve and expect better. On behalf of 51 percent of Virginia’s population, we hope that you apologize to Anna Scholl. It is the very least you can do.

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