Gina Ortiz Jones, an out lesbian Air Force veteran running for Congress, raised nearly $100,000 in three days after an opposition research site allegedly attempted to cast her sexual orientation and support for transgender rights in a negative light.
The site, DemocratFacts.org, is a project of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House Republicans. It typically serves as a way for campaign committees to signal to outside groups and super-PACs their preferred lines of attack against opponents.
On the website, the NRCC included a photo of Ortiz Jones, who is running as a Democrat to represent Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, and her partner holding champagne glasses and smiling at what appears to be a fundraiser.
The page included references to Ortiz Jones’s “female partner” that cast her as an outsider from “Washington, D.C., not Texas.” Of all the candidates on DemocratFacts.org, only Jones was pictured with a spouse or partner, according to The Huffington Post.
The NRCC later removed the reference to Ortiz Jones’s partner from the front tab, while keeping the “carpetbagger” allegations, but a second tab labeled “Hits” on the NRCC website — which outlines nine different arguments against her — continues to list the language referring to having lived in the D.C. area with her partner as the second bullet point.
The third bullet point says that Jones, who supports LGBTQ rights, supports “using taxpayer money to pay for gender reassignment surgery.”
“I remember what it was like to serve under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. To hide who I am to serve our country,” Ortiz Jones tweeted last Tuesday in response to the initial NRCC attack. “To the bigots: take your best shot. To everyone else: donate here to join our fight.”
Bob Salera, a spokesman for the NRCC, refused to respond to a request from The Huffington Post as to why the NRCC site still features the photo of Ortiz Jones with her partner.
“What is the issue with using a picture of carpetbagging Washington, D.C. resident Gina Jones drinking champagne at a Michelin-starred Capitol Hill restaurant that costs $325 per person?” Salera questioned.
In the three days after the initial story about the NRCC site went public, Ortiz Jones’s campaign has received an influx of $100,000 in donations — something the campaign celebrated as a moral victory as well as a financial one.
“The outpouring of grassroots support our campaign received after Washington Republicans’ bigoted and homophobic attacks shows just how out of touch they are with Texans in this district,” Ortiz Jones’s campaign manager, Lacey Morrison, said in a statement.
“Their efforts to attack an Air Force and Iraq War veteran who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell clearly backfired,” Morrison added.
“Our campaign will continue building on our momentum and expanding our coalition of supporters to ensure we elect Gina Ortiz Jones to Congress this November.”
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