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10 Reasons Attorney General Candidate Mark Obenshain is Horrible for VA

From LGBT equality, to reproductive freedom, to health care, to voting rights, to animal welfare and guns, Mark Obenshain isn't merely out of the Virginia mainstream, he's completely off the deep end.  We could -- but won't -- list 100 reasons not to vote for this Ken Cuccinelli clone. Instead, we'll give you the Top 10.

1. He's a Cuccinelli clone: Obenshain said in 2011 that he and Ken Cuccinelli are "two peas in a pod, philosophically." Obenshain has called Cuccinelli "'a principled and effective attorney general' who has earned the admiration of friends and foes alike." He's said that Cuccinelli has "done a great job" as Attorney General, and that he (Obenshain) would "build on his work, without missing a step," if elected to the position.

2. He's a raging homophobe: In 2010, Obenshain voted against adding sexual orientation to current anti-discrimination policies in Virginia state government hiring. In 2013, Obenshain voted against prohibiting state agencies from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on their sexual orientation. In January 2013, he walked out of the Virginia Senate chamber rather than voting on the judicial nomination of an openly gay former prosecutor. In 2004, he voted in committee (along with, of course, Ken Cuccinelli) against overturning Virginia's "ban on sodomy between consenting adults." We could go on all day, but you get the picture. In today's world, being a homophobe should be an automatic disqualifier for anyone seeking public office.

3. He's an anti-choice extremist when it comes to women's reproductive freedom. In 2009, he sponsored a bill to require women to report miscarriages to police within 24 hours or risk going to prison. In 2012, he voted for the infamous "transvaginal ultrasound" mandate. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, he introduced amendments to prohibit state funding for "any organization providing abortion or abortion counseling services." In 2007 and 2011, he sponsored "personhood" bills to "extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to the unborn from the moment of conception." That would effectively criminalize all abortions, as well as many forms of contraception, embryonic stem cell research, and possibly in vitro fertilization. 

4. He's against open, transparent government. In 2006, he voted in committee against prohibiting "gifts from lobbyists and other persons to General Assembly members during regular legislative sessions." In 2012, he voted in committee to kill a bill to "require that the state budget be available to the public for at least 72 hours prior to a vote on it." In February 2013, he voted in committee to allow state legislators to continue to be compensated "for attending conferences for which the agenda and materials are not available to the public." And last but not least, in 2011, he voted in support of allowing Virginia's attorney general to use subpoena power "to investigate areas of academic inquiry and research."

5. He's extremely weak when it comes to child abuse. In 2011, Obenshain was one of three state legislators who voted against extending from two years to "20 years the period in which a victim of childhood sexual abuse may file a lawsuit against an abuser." Obenshain at the time called the proposed time extension unfair and "truly mind-boggling." Also, in 2004, Obenshain voted against requiring "clergy to report suspected instances of child abuse," and in 2006, he voted against adding "clergy to the list of professionals required to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect." As if all that's not bad or crazy enough, in 2008 Obenshain voted against a budget that included funding $1.5 million for Alicia's Law, which creates task forces aimed at catching online child-sex predators. Again, this man is looking to be the next Attorney General.

6. He's weak on crime. For instance, in 2007, he voted in committee against making it illegal to defraud by filling out a credit card application in another person's name. In 2008, Obenshain voted in committee to kill legislation to increase penalties for drunk driving and vehicle-related felonies. In 2009, Obenshain voted in committee against enhanced penalties for "recruiting another to participate in a gang" and "gang-related offenses occurring on or within 1,000 feet of school property or on a school bus." And in 2011, Obenshain voted in committee to kill Mark Herring's bill to make it a felony to use "deception, intimidation, undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, or misrepresentation" to steal from the elderly or other vulnerable adults, with "enhanced penalties when the offender is a caregiver or a person in a position of trust." 

7. He's a gun extremist. Obenshain said that opposition to his bill allowing guns in bars was "nonsensical." He voted for the repeal of Virginia's one-handgun-a-month law. He voted to allow guns in child day care centers. He voted against closing the gun show loophole. In this campaign, he posed proudly with NRA leader Wayne LaPierre and also with right-wing hate radio host Mark Levin, while sporting a "Guns Save Lives" sticker (see photo above). 

8. He's against working people. In 2006, Obenshain said that advocates for "raising the minimum wage...[are] asking government to substitute its judgment for that of the marketplace." In 2007, he voted against raising Virginia's minimum wage. In 2005, he was one of two state senators and six state legislators who voted against making it a felony to intentionally and fraudulently refuse to pay wages for work performed. In 2004, he voted against a bill to allow "parents or guardians to take up to four hours leave from their jobs each year to attend their children's school activities." In 2009, he criticized a proposal to make part-time workers eligible for unemployment benefits, calling it a "boondoggle" and "unnecessary." And in 2004, he voted against a budget that included significant funding for economic development initiatives, including funding "to market distressed areas of the state."

9. He is against your right to vote. As the Washington Post pointed out, Obenshain "has been a champion of the GOP push for more restrictive voter ID laws, which would reduce access for poor and minority voters," despite "zero evidence of voters misrepresenting their identity at the Virginia polls, the ostensible justification for such laws." In 2012, Obenshain sponsored legislation to require identification to cast an official ballot. he followed that up by voting, in 2013, to eliminate "several forms of ID currently acceptable at the polls," moving Virginia "a step closer on Friday to joining the few states that require voters to present photo ID at the polls." And in 2013, he voted against amending the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons.

10. If you care about animal welfare, do NOT vote for Mark Obenshain. In 2005, Obenshain (and Ken Cuccinelli) were two of five Senators who voted against legislation to regulate "puppy mills." In 2007, he (and Ken Cuccinelli) voted in committee against requiring veterinarians and employees at shelters to report to law enforcement "injuries to a dog when the injury is consistent with fighting of dogs." In 2007, Obenshain and Ken Cuccinelli were the ONLY two Senators to vote against increasing penalties for engaging in cockfighting. Obenshain's abysmal record on animal welfare also includes voting "against a bill to end competitive fox penning, an action so heinous that opponents call it 'barbaric.'" Unsurprisingly, the Humane Society has endorsed Mark Herring for Attorney General.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but by itself constitutes a very real indictment of the man trying to be Virginia's next Attorney General.

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