Where Do Candidates Stand on Sexual Assault and Rape?

Washington, Oct. 14 – Given the news cycle, talk about sexual assault and rape has increased.

It’s important to note that children with disabilities are three times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault than children without disabilities. Victims of assault are more likely to commit crimes. Every nine minutes an adult with a disability is sexually assaulted or raped.

As part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire,the nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for Senate or Governor about their plans to address these issues. While many had plans regarding rape and sexual assault, several had specific plans for rape and sexual assault of people with disabilities. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to address these issues and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

Check out what they have to say below:

Gubernatorial Candidates

State Senator Colin Bonini (DE-R)
“Education is needed. I was not aware of this information but as people are made aware of the signs and the risk for certain populations that are more vulnerable, then we can hopefully curb this. It’s vitally important that those in our education, non-profit and other communities receive the appropriate awareness training.”

Dr. Bud Pierce (OR-R)
“We need to have oversight, and vigorous investigation, to prevent abuse, including sexual abuse, of all people, and especially the vulnerable disabled.”

Mr. Mike Weinholtz (UT-D)
“Utah has a shameful record when it comes to rape and sexual assault, and I feel that the state has only started to address the underlying problems that cause these crimes to happen in the first place.

First, I feel that law enforcement and the criminal justice system needs to place a greater emphasis on investigating, arresting, and convicting those who are guilty of rape and sexual assault. Sadly, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, only 32 percent of crimes are actually reported, of those only seven out of 100 rapes will lead to an arrest, with three being forwarded to prosecutors, and only two will spend at least a day in jail. This effectively means that 98 percent of all rapists walk free. These statistics are wholly unacceptable and the culture that allows these statistics to become a reality must be changed.

Related to this, victims need to feel safe in reporting the crime. All too often victims are afraid of reparations by the accused or society, so they prefer to remain silent on this serious topic. I feel this culture is allowed because, for the most part, perpetrators know they will not be punished for the crime. So, again, law enforcement and the criminal justice system needs to take the issue seriously, and we need to create a culture that is intolerant of rape and sexual assault so that accusers feel safe to come forward.

In the case of disabled populations, the issue is even more complex. Besides greater education regarding Adult Protective Services to the local community I feel there are three other actions that must take place. First, I feel we must reduce the total number of potential perpetrators through a change in culture, next I feel the state must provide care givers and victims the tools they need to know and understand when a rape or sexual assault has taken place, and to feel safe in coming forward with these allegations. Third, though I feel support networks should be in place for any victim of sexual assault, this fact is particularly true for the physically or mentally disabled, as they are the most vulnerable of all populations.”

Sec. Sue Minter (VT-D)
“I want a strong system that allows suspicions of abuse to be reported and investigated as quickly as possible. Vermont’s protection system for children is currently under considerable pressures brought about by substance abuse and understaffing. Vermont’s Adult Protective Services division, which addresses abuse of elderly Vermonters and those with disabilities, is currently strong. I support the continuation of a recently established advisory committee of advocates, Legal Aid attorneys and others to monitor the case files and activities of our Adult Protective Services division.”

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (VT-R)
“Rape and sexual assault are inexcusable, period. Vermont’s laws carry harsh penalties for those who abuse our most vulnerable, and I will uphold and defend those laws for all Vermonters.”

Senate Candidates

Mr. Ron Crumpton (AL-D)
“I will fight to increase fines and jail-time for those convicted of preying on Americans with disabilities.”

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris (CA-D)
“Kamala Harris began her career prosecuting sexual assault cases and understands that persons with disabilities are often targets of sexual violence. As California Attorney General, she released a Model Memorandum of Understanding designed to help law enforcement agencies and institutions of higher learning improve their coordination, collaboration, and transparency in response to cases of campus sexual assault and she has championed new technology to allow California to process rape kits faster in order to clear a longstanding backlog of rape kits in state crime labs. In the Senate, Kamala will continue serving as a champion for sexual assault victims and will fight for enhanced protections for all victims of sexual assault, including persons with disabilities.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-D)
“As a staunch advocate for sexual assault survivors, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and robust IDEA funding, I am committed to fight for quality protections for children and adults with disabilities. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have worked diligently to ensure the voices and lived experiences of disabled Americans are heard and that we work together to reform, improve, and expand legislation to better ensure that all disabled Americans, regardless of background or zip code, are protected from discrimination and abuse. I have continuously put robust funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as one of my top priorities within the appropriations process because I firmly believe that all students with disabilities receive a quality education with the resources and protections they deserve. Moreover, as co-founder of the Women in the Military Caucus, I have been part of the long fight to not only stamp out sexual assault in the military but in all our public institutions.

“As Senator, I vow to continue to put these priorities at the forefront of my policy agenda. As sexual assault cases become more and more prevalent in the public eye, I will remain firm in working with my colleagues within and across party lines to expand legislation that will put in place further protections for sexual assault survivors with disabilities. We need to ensure that children with disabilities are not placed in environments where their safety would be compromised. I believe expanding funding/grants for programs for disabled children and ensuring our public schools have programs available are also important. Leadership is key when establishing the climate of a certain place or organization. Leadership must make discrimination unacceptable and emphasize that all humans deserve respect and protection. I believe my 20 years of experience in combating sexual assault and protecting our most vulnerable communities serves as a complementary example of my commitment to this issue.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-D)
“Sexual violence is unacceptable in any situation, whether in the military, on a college campus, or in a situation that exploits people with disabilities. I have supported the Violence Against Women Act vigorously, including provisions that mandate rapists be held accountable and that prioritize the needs of underserved communities such as people with disabilities. In the Senate, I will fight passionately for the safety and protection of all people with disabilities from sexual violence.”

Mr. Patrick Wiesner (KS-R)
“I did not know persons with disabilities were at a higher risk for rape and sexual assault. That fact is a tragedy. All persons, especially the disabled, should enjoy the equal protection of our laws and government.”

Mr. Foster Campbell (LA-D)
“We need to ensure the very best screening, training and continuing education for professionals dealing with people with disabilities and their families. Streamlining reporting and investigation is a must. I will support legislation and policies that protect people with disabilities as a top priority.”

Ms. Caroline Fayard (LA-D)
“More resources must be made available in schools and vocational training centers for people with disabilities that include self-advocacy skills as well best self-defense practices. People with disabilities need to be given the tools to avoid more dangerous situations and know how address criminal activity against them before they become another statistic.”

Mr. Abhay Patel (LA-R)
“Our law enforcement community is one of our country’s greatest assets but they have an incredibly tough job. We need to empower our local leaders with the tools they need to equip our law enforcement officers with the training to identify and differentiate those who may need assistance from those who pose a danger.”

Del. Kathy Szeliga (MD-R)
“We must provide people with disabilities the tools not only to proactively protect themselves from criminals when they can do so and access to law enforcement protection, but also ensure that our legal system provides justice for those who are victims.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-D)
“The horrific reality of sexual assault of persons with disabilities must be addressed with urgency. When I was in the state legislature, I worked to strengthen penalties for rape. We must educate both persons with disabilities to be self-advocates and service providers to be aware of signs of sexual assault so these crimes will be reported, investigated, and prosecuted. We must continue broader strategies aimed at prevention of sexual assault and rape, including comprehensive sex education and understanding of consent.”

Secretary of State Jason Kander (MO-D)
“Yes. As a nation, we must do better to fight against rape and sexual assault. Given that people with disabilities are more likely to face sexual violence, this is an issue of the utmost urgency. I support criminal background checks for those working with people with disabilities and making sure survivors are given the utmost protection under the law.

“I have a record of working to protect victims of sexual assault and rape as Secretary of State. I worked to expand Missouri’s Safe at Home program, which allows victims of rape and sexual assault to use an alternative address to keep their whereabouts unknown to their assailants.”

Rep. Joe Heck (NV-R)
“Rape and sexual assault are heinous crimes, but especially when they are carried out against those most vulnerable. All of us must work together to ensure community-based organizations and law enforcement understand what to look for in the aftermath of these crimes if they are not reported and how to respond to cases of rape and sexual assault when they involve a victim with disabilities.”

Atty. Gen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV-D)
“Yes. Sexual assault, and crimes committed against our most vulnerable, cannot and will not be tolerated. One of my proudest moments as Attorney General was watching Governor Sandoval sign into law landmark legislation I sponsored to combat sex trafficking. Working with people and groups across this state, we helped survivors find the courage to come forward and stand up to the human traffickers. We expanded the sex offender registry and gave victims the right to sue their captors. We made sex trafficking a felony. And most importantly, we gave survivors a path to a new beginning. As a U.S. Senator, I will be proud to continue to be an advocate for victims of sexual assault, securing protections for victims, including members of our disabled community and those most vulnerable.”

Kelly Ayotte (NH-R)
“Yes. I helped introduce and enact into law legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which strengthened the health care system’s response to domestic and sexual violence. I’ve consistently supported full funding for VAWA and related programs. There is a provision in VAWA that specifically sets aside funding for grants to end violence against women with disabilities. I’ve additionally helped introduce the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act which prohibits discrimination against any person – including specifically those with disabilities – when it comes to receiving federal assistance under those programs.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan (NH-D)
“Sexual assault is an unthinkable crime, one that tragically happens far too often, especially to people with disabilities. We must always be working to prevent sexual assault in the first place and have required criminal background checks for those working with people with disabilities. This ensures that a perpetrator cannot move from one facility or community to another after being fired. We must also protect survivors when such a tragedy occurs and promptly investigate any incident. I support measures such as Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act, an important step to build on the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act. By clearly articulating rights to address the unique challenges faced by sexual assault survivors, this bill will help empower survivors and send a clear signal that the law is on their side. I remain committed to advancing strong protections at every level for victims and survivors of all crimes, and I will support policies to help protect children and adults with disabilities from sexual assault.”

“I have signed legislation establishing the crime of domestic violence, strengthened protections for human trafficking victims, and provided funding to support child victims of crime.”

Sen. Richard Burr (NC-R)
“I believe one of the fundamental tasks of government is to protect the vulnerable, and protecting individuals with disabilities from those who commit the heinous crimes of rape and sexual assault is an issue I have made a top priority during my time in the Senate. Congress recently passed legislation I introduced, the Military Sex Offender Reporting Act, which closes a significant loophole that previously allowed some sex offenders to evade registration with the National Sex Offender Registry. Ensuring that sex offenders are registered and known is an important part of protecting the vulnerable from becoming victims of those who commit these horrific crimes, and I am currently working to provide strong oversight to ensure that these provisions are being implemented.

“I am also committed to ensuring that the perpetrators who commit these crimes against people with disabilities are discovered, prosecuted, and prevented from reoffending. I have cosponsored legislation to ensure that rape kits are tested so that the perpetrators can be convicted, and I have supported laws providing resources to track down sex offenders who do not register.

“The State Department has noted that individuals with disabilities are particularly at risk of being trafficking victims, and I have worked to stop human trafficking both in the United States and around the globe and to provide support for survivors. I’m also proud to have supported programs like the Department of Justice’s Training and Services to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Grant Program, which was established in the Violence Against Women Act in 2000.”

State Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-D)
“I have always looked out for victims of domestic and sexual violence. In the State House, I supported a number of bills that strengthened laws against sex offenders, including the state’s registry. I sponsored legislation that prohibited victims from being billed for rape kits and brought the state into compliance with VAWA, which secured millions in future federal spending. I was successful in passing legislation that increased the penalty for violating a protective order while armed with a deadly weapon and making changes to how domestic violence cases were handled in court. In the U.S. Senate, I will continue to work for protecting all people from domestic and sexual violence taking special care to address the needs of people with disabilities who are more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault.”

Mr. Mark Callahan (OR-R)
“First we must pass laws nationwide that register all sex offenders. In Oregon, currently 98% of the sex offenders are not registered, this creates a dangerous situation. Second there needs to be extensive oversight in the hiring of people who work with the disabled to ensure they are not previous offenders nor prone to be one. As well legislation needs to be passed that funds the research to identify how to educate individuals with disabilities about the dangers and as well an education program that is able to teach them about these dangers. Recently, Narlina was discussing with me about how she reached out to the Autism Society regarding assistance in teaching her autistic son just going into puberty about his body and what is okay and what is not and she found that in Oregon there was no program for this. She said it complicates the ability of her as a parent to ensure her son properly understands about his own body and what is not okay.”

Mrs. Katie McGinty (PA-D)
“Nationally, initiatives like the It’s On Us campaign have shed light on the scope of rape and sexual assault in our country. To begin to make progress it’s important to recognize that people with disabilities may face additional barriers to reporting assault, or being taken at their word when they do report. We should ensure that we’re giving victims the support they need and a platform to continue to reduce the stigma surrounding assault.”

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (WI-D)
“The statistics on rape and sexual assault of people with disabilities are appalling. I believe that our society must do more to prevent sexual assault and to ensure that victims of rape and sexual assault are listened to and believed by law enforcement and by their communities. I am a strong supporter of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides funding for sexual assault prevention, and which my opponent, Senator Johnson, voted against reauthorizing. Some progress has also been made by the Justice Department, which issued new forensic examination guidelines that specifically address treating people with disabilities. But we must also do more at a grassroots level to support men and women with disabilities who are victims of sexual assault. I support outreach campaigns that raise awareness among people with disabilities and their allies about community resources for people affected by rape and sexual assault.”

RespectAbility has asked all the candidates for Governor and Senator on both sides of the aisle to complete the same questionnaire. We will share responses from additional campaigns as we receive them.

The RespectAbility Report is a nonpartisan political commentary on the 2016 U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues. The RespectAbility Report has covered all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for president, senate and governor. Coverage can be found at http://therespectabilityreport.org/. The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates.

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Your Help is Needed on Disability Campaign Questionnaire!

With just 39 days until Election Day, we need your help. RespectAbility is calling on all candidates for governor or Senate to complete the #PwDsVote Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire. “PwDs” stands for “people with disabilities.” So far, Hillary Clinton and 30 candidates for Senate or Governor from both parties have done so. Now we’re calling on you to help to encourage the remainder. A number of candidates, including Mr. Trump, have yet to fill out a nonpartisan candidate questionnaire on issues vital to America’s 56 million citizens with disabilities!

The down-ballot responses received so far are from candidates on both sides of the aisle – with 18 from Democrats and 12 from Republicans, demonstrating how disability rights is a nonpartisan issue.

Can I count on you to call and/or tweet the remaining candidates and ask that they respond to the questionnaire? Tell them why it’s important to you! You can find a lot more information about the questionnaire in the release we first sent out earlier this month.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale. The answers to these questionnaires are being posted on The RespectAbility Report and will be used for individualized state voter guides.

This linked Excel list (shown below with some information as well) includes candidates’ email addresses, phone numbers, appropriate contact person (where we could identify) and Twitter handles. When a candidate responds, the spreadsheet is updated in real-time to include a link to their responses that have been posted on The RespectAbility Report.

Sample Tweets (replace @ with the candidate’s Twitter handle):

  • @ Please fill out @Respect_Ability’s #PwDsVote disability questionnaire: bit.ly/PwDsVoteQ. We’re 20% of country!
  • @ Don’t ignore 1-in-5 Americans! Fill out @Respect_Ability’s #PwDsVote disability questionnaire: bit.ly/PwDsVoteQ

Non-Twitter Options
Email and call the candidates’ HQ or email their campaign office. Please find a table of contact information below, which is accurate as of Thursday, September 29. The linked Excel document includes phone numbers and will be updated in real-time as candidates submit more responses or new contact information is shared.

Share a Post on Facebook:
30 Senate and gubernatorial candidates have responded to the #PwDsVote Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire so far! Help RespectAbility encourage all candidates to respond so we can learn more about their their views on issues for people with disabilities. (link to post: http://bit.ly/PwDsVote30)

* Please tag RespectAbility when you post to Facebook

Questions? Email Lauren Appelbaum: laurena@respectabilityusa.org.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP! Absentee and early voting starts soon. Be sure you are registered to vote and encourage others to do the same!

All the best,
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
President, RespectAbility

Governor Races
(As of September 29, 2016 – will be updated throughout season)


State  Name Email Address Twitter Handle Response
Delaware – R Colin Bonini senator-colin@prodigy.net @colinbonini http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBonini
Delaware – D John Carney jessica@johncarney.org @john_carney
Indiana – D John Gregg jharris@greggforgovernor.com @GreggForGov
Indiana – R Eric Holcomb peteseat@holcombforindiana.com @HolcombForIN
Missouri – R Eric Greitens press@ericgreitens.com @EricGreitens
Missouri – D Chris Koster dturner@chriskoster.com @Koster4Missouri http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKoster
Montana – D Steve Bullock bullock@stevebullock.com @BullockForMT
Montana – R Greg Gianforte ron@gregformontana.com @GregForMontana http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteGianforte
New Hampshire – D (lost primary) Derek Dextraze governordextraze@gmail.com @derekdeztraze http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteDextraze
New Hampshire – R Chris Sununu chris@chrissununu.com @ChrisSununu
New Hampshire – D Colin Van Ostern matt@vanostern.com @ColinVanOstern
North Carolina – D Roy Cooper info@roycooper.com @roycoopernc
North Carolina – R Pat McCrory info@patmccrory.com @PatMcCroryNC
North Dakota – R Doug Burgum teamdoug@dougburgum.com @DougForDakota DECLINED TO RESPOND
North Dakota – D Marvin Nelson nelsonfornd@outlook.com @nelsonfornd
Oregon – D Kate Brown chris@katebrownfororegon.com @KateBrownForOR
Oregon – R Bud Pierce info@budpierce.com @BudPierce4Gov http://bit.ly/PwDsVotePierce
Utah – R Gary Herbert contact@garyherbert.com @HerbertForUtah
Utah – D Mike Weinholtz curtis@mikeforutah.com @mikeforutah http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteWeinholtz
Vermont – D Sue Minter liz@sueminter.com @SueMinterVT http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMinter
Vermont – R Phil Scott ethan@philscott.org @philscott4vt http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteScott
Washington – R Bill Bryant ryan@billbryantforgovernor.com @BillBryantWA http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBryant
Washington – D Jay Inslee info@jayinslee.com @JayInslee
West Virginia – R Bill Cole rachel@billcoleforwv.com @BillColeWV
West Virginia – D Jim Justice ebailey@justiceforwv.com @justiceforwv  


Senate Races
(Candidates as of September 29, 2016 – will be updated throughout season)



State Name Email Address Twitter Handle Response
Alabama – R Richard Shelby info@shelbyforsenate.com @SenShelby
Alabama – D Ron Crumpton ron@crumptonforalabama.com @Crumpton_US_Sen http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCrumpton
Alaska – R Lisa Murkowski campaign@lisamurkowski.com @lisamurkowski
Alaska – D Ray Metcalfe alaskanwarrior@gmail.com @Ray4AKSenate
Arizona – R John McCain info@johnmccain.com @TeamMcCain
Arizona – D Ann Kirkpatrick info@kirkpatrickforsenate.com @ann_kirkpatrick
Arkansas – R John Boozman info@boozman.com @boozman4AR
Arkansas – D Conner Eldridge graham@connerforarkansas.com @connerforar
California – D Kamala Harris james@kamalaharris.org @KamalaHarris http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteHarris
California – D Loretta Sanchez maria@loretta.org @Loretta2016 http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteSanchez
Colorado – D Michael Bennet claire@bennetforcolorado.com @BennetForCO
Colorado – R Darryl Glenn katey@electdarrylglenn.com @darrylglenn2016 DECLINED TO RESPOND
Connecticut – D Richard Blumenthal conner@richardblumenthal.com @SenBlumenthal
Connecticut – R Dan Carter bill@carterforsenate.com @dancarterct DECLINED TO RESPOND
Florida – D Patrick Murphy info@murphyforflorida.com @PatrickMurphyFL
Florida – R Marco Rubio info@marcorubio.com @marcorubio
Florida – R (lost primary) Dwight Young dwightyoung4senate@gmail.com @dy4senate2016 http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteYoung
Georgia – R Johnny Isakson info@johnnyisakson.com  @JohnnyIsakson
Georgia – D Jim Barksdale info@jimbarksdale.com @jimbarksdale
Hawaii – D Brian Schatz info@brianschatz.com @brianschatz
Hawaii – R John Caroll info@carroll4senate.com @carroll4senate
Idaho – R Mike Crapo info@crapoforsenate.com @crapo4senate
Idaho – D Jerry Sturgill info@sturgill4senate.com @sturgill4idaho
Illinois – D Tammy Duckworth nichola@tammyduckworth.com @tammyforIL
Illinois – R Mark Kirk press@kirkforsenate.com @markkirk http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKirk
Indiana – D Evan Bayh megan@evanbayhforindiana.com @EvanBayh DECLINED TO RESPOND
Indiana – R Todd Young jay@toddyoung.org @ToddYoungIN DECLINED TO RESPOND
Iowa – R Chuck Grassley jack.hellie@grassleyworks.com @ChuckGrassley
Iowa – D Patty Judge sam@pattyjudgeforiowa.com @pattyforiowa
Kansas – R Jerry Moran info@moranforkansas.com @moranforkansas
Kansas – D Patrick Wiesner info@wiesnerforsenate.com @wiesner4senate
Kentucky – R Rand Paul s.farmer@randpaul2016.com @RandPaul2016
Kentucky – D Jim Gray grace@grayforkentucky.com @grayforKentucky
Louisiana – R Charles Boustany kevin@charlesboustany.com @cboustanyjr DECLINED TO RESPOND
Louisiana – D Foster Campbell ncampbell99@fostercampbell2016.com @campbellforLa http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCampbell
Louisiana – R Joseph Cao tonytran@caolawfirm.com
Louisiana – D Caroline Fayard don@carolinefayard.com @FayardforSenate http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFayard
Louisiana – R John Fleming ruth@flemingforla.com @FlemingforLA
Louisiana – R John Kennedy hq@johnkennedy.com @JohnKennedyLA
Louisiana – R Rob Maness john@robmaness.com @RobManess DECLINED TO RESPOND
Louisiana – R Abhay Patel will@patelforlouisiana.com @patelforLA http://bit.ly/PwDsVotePatel
Louisiana – D Josh Pellerin info@pellerinsenate.com
Maryland – R Kathy Szeliga leslie@kathyformaryland.com @KathyforMD http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteSzeliga
Maryland – D Chris Van Hollen sarah@vanhollen.org @VanHollenForMD http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteVanHollen
Missouri – R Roy Blunt rebeccaknipp@royblunt.com @RoyBluntMO
Missouri – D Jason Kander brad@jasonkander.com @JasonKander http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKander
Nevada – R Joe Heck brian@drjoeheck.com @heck4nevada http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteHeck
Nevada – D Catherine Masto bridget@catherinecortezmasto.com @catherinefornv http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMasto
New Hampshire – R Kelly Ayotte liz@kellyfornh.com @KellyAyotte http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteAyotte
New Hampshire – D Maggie Hassan aaron@maggiehassan.com @Maggie_Hassan http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteHassan
New York – D Chuck Schumer info@chuckschumer.com @chuckschumer
New York – R Wendy Long campaign@wendylong.com @wendylongny
North Carolina – R Richard Burr ajohnson@burrforsenate.com @burrforsenate http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBurr
North Carolina – D Deborah Ross erika@deborahross.com @deborahrossnc http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteRoss
North Dakota – R John Hoeven deb@hoevenforsenate.com @hoeven4senate DECLINED TO RESPOND
North Dakota – D Eliot Glassheim info@eliot4nd.com @eliot4nd
Ohio – R Rob Portman press@robportman.com @robportman
Ohio – D Ted Strickland press@tedstrickland.com @Ted_Strickland
Oklahoma – R James Lankford office@jameslankford.com @jameslankford
Oklahoma – D Mike Workman Workman4OK@gmail.com @workmanistan
Oregon – D Ron Wyden campaign@wydenforsenate.com @wydenfororegon
Oregon – R Mark Callahan mark@callahanfororegon.com @callahan4oregon
Pennsylvania – D Katie McGinty moconnor@katiemcginty.com @KatieMcGintyPA http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMcGinty
Pennsylvania – R Pat Toomey theo@toomeyforsenate.com @PatToomey
South Carolina – R Tim Scott info@timscott.com @votetimscott
South Carolina – D Thomas Dixon info@dixonforsc.com @dixonforsenate
South Dakota – R John Thune john@johnthune.com @johnthune
South Dakota – D Jay Williams friends@jaywilliams2016.com @jay4senate http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteWilliams
Utah – R Mike Lee info@leeforsenate.com @MikeLeeforUtah
Utah – D Misty Snow Genevra@mistyksnow.com @mistyksnow
Vermont – D Patrick Leahy jay@leahyforvermont.com @patrickleahy http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteLeahy
Vermont – R Scott Milne info@scottmilne.org @milneforvt
Washington – D Patty Murray campmail@pattymurray.com @MurrayCampaign
Washington – R Chris Vance info@chrisvanceforsenate.com @chrisvance123
Wisconsin – D Russ Feingold press@russfeingold.com @russfeingold http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFeingold
Wisconsin – R Ron Johnson press@ronjohnsonforsenate.com @ronjohnsonwi


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Presidential Debate: Will the candidates address the slaughter of people with disabilities in America?

Washington, Sept. 26 – Tonight’s presidential debate will cover three topics, each to be discussed for two 15-minute segments: “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.” As the New York Times explains, “these topics cover a lot of ground and could refer to anything: the economy, national security, domestic policy or the environment, to name just a few.”

The very flexible nature of these topics will allow debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News to ask about current events and recent topics of conversation. One such topic is the increasing amount of people of color with disabilities being killed by police.

Left to right: Keith Lamont Scott and Officer Brentley Vinson. Vinson allegedly shot and killed Scott.

Left to right: Keith Lamont Scott and Officer Brentley Vinson. Vinson allegedly shot and killed Scott.

In a video recorded by Keith Lamont Scott’s wife, viewers hear her pleading with police, telling them that Scott does not have a gun but that he has a TBI, a traumatic brain injury, and is not going to harm them. The video was released on Friday.

In a speech on Wednesday about employment for people with disabilities, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton spoke about Scott’s death.

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22 Candidates Respond to #PwDsVote Down Ballot Campaign Questionnaire

22 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 23 – As more candidates begin to understand the importance of including people with disabilities within their campaigns, they begin to think about issues of critical importance to the disability community.

A just-released Pew poll shows that voters with disabilities span the political and demographic spectrum and can determine who wins the elections.

Political campaigns know that this is a swing vote and Sec. Hillary Clinton has made this a new centerpiece of her campaign. Likewise, Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina has made it central to his re-election effort.

To date, 22 down ballot candidates have responded to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, seven additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 22 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

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Clinton Set to Unveil Economic Plan for People with Disabilities

22 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Hillary CLinton smiling with American flag as backdropWashington, Sept. 21 – Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is devoting this afternoon’s rally to her plan on creating an economy that values people with disabilities. Per an aide, Clinton will propose an economy that “welcomes people with disabilities, values their work, rewards them fairly, and treats them with respect.”

Just yesterday, reality TV star Nyle DiMarco starred in an ad for Clinton that is completely in sign language with English captions. “We’re used to being ignored,” DiMarco says, before stating that there are a lot of people with disabilities without a voice.

“The voice of your vote is the greatest voice we have,” he concludes, urging all people to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton.

It’s important to note, however, that examples of disability outreach are on both sides of the aisle, especially when you look down ballot. Earlier this month, GOP Sen. Richard Burr‘s campaign produced a new statewide television ad in North Carolina highlighting his work in support of the bi-partisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This new law, which also was supported by Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, creates new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities in order to pay for qualified disability expenses.

All of this comes at a time of multiple down ballot candidates responding to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, seven additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 22 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

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First Ever Senate/Governor Disability Vote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 6 – Employment. Stigma. Education. Criminal Justice. Independent Living. Sexual Assault. Housing. Transportation. Adaptive Technology. Fifteen candidates for Senate or Governor have given detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

The more than 56 million people with disabilities in the U.S. have a long list of policy concerns for the candidates running for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2016. Only one-in-three working-age Americans with a disability has a job, despite the fact that studies show that 70 percent want to work. Moreover, according to Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, more than 750,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in our nation. Disability is the only minority group that people can join at any time due to accident, illness or aging.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, asked candidates on both sides of the aisle to complete a 16 (for gubernatorial) or 17 (for Senate) question survey. The questionnaire asked for their positions on a range of issues important to the disability community, a group that makes up fully one-in-five Americans. Their answers are posted verbatim and in full on The RespectAbility Report, a publication that covers the intersection of disability and politics.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

So far, four candidates for governor from Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont (two Republican candidates and two Democratic candidates) have submitted a response. On the Senate side, RespectAbility has received eleven responses from candidates. The Senate responses are from seven Democrats and four Republicans from Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida.

Said RespectAbility’s president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, “Since disability doesn’t discriminate, voters with disabilities are every race, age, ethnic group, religion and gender. As the presidential election has become polarized around racial and ethnic lines, disability issues can create the difference between winning and losing.”

And candidates have begun to use disability in their campaign ads. Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton superPAC, released two ads in swing states targeting Trump’s treatment of people with disabilities – Dante, featuring a 17-year-old African American boy with a disability, and Grace, featuring parents of a child with spina bifida.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan‘s first ad tells the story of her son Ben, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair user and is nonverbal. She is running for New Hampshire’s open Senate seat.

Just today, GOP Sen. Richard Burr‘s campaign is out with a new statewide television ad in North Carolina highlighting his work in support of the bi-partisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This new law, which also was supported by Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, creates new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities in order to pay for qualified disability expenses.

Below are links to detailed answers to the questionnaire.

Text in image: #PwDsVote 2016 Senate and Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, mage in background - two individuals at voting booths, one in a wheelchair and one using a white cane

State Gubernatorial Candidate View Full Answers
Delaware Colin Bonini (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBonini
Missouri Chris Koster (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKoster
New Hampshire Derek Dextraze (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteDextraze
Vermont Phil Scott (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteScott


State Senate Candidate View Full Answers
Louisiana Foster Campell (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCampbell
Louisiana Caroline Fayard (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFayard
Louisiana Abhay Patel (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVotePatel
Maryland Kathy Szeliga (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteSzeliga
Maryland Chris Van Hollen (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteVanHollen
Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMasto
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBurr
North Carolina Deborah Ross (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteRoss
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMcGinty
Wisconsin Russ Feingold (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFeingold
Florida (lost primary) Dwight Young (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteYoung

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report are nonpartisan and do not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

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Campaign 2016 and People with Disabilities: Enabling Access and Opportunities for All

A Special Summit for Campaign Consultants, Hill Staff and Disability Leaders Featuring Gov. Jack Markell and Dave Hoppe

1 in 5 Americans have a disability

America has 56 million people with disabilities. Polls show that the majority of voters either have a disability or a loved one with a disability. Voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs — and the actions that campaigns take to reach out to these voters can make the difference between winning and losing. Yet far too many campaigns are not reaching this demographic — one-in-five Americans — in a meaningful way.

A summit convened by the nonprofit nonpartisan organization RespectAbility showcased how campaigns, candidates and elected officials can not only reach out to but fully include voters with disabilities. It’s time for candidates to view people with disabilities — the largest minority group in America — as an important voting group like African Americans, soccer moms and the LGBTQ community.

Sessions focused on important topics from disability messaging the 2016 national election to ensuring events and campaign materials are accessible to all. Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) and Dave Hoppe, who serves as Chief of Staff to Speaker Paul Ryan, received awards for their work in ensuring people with disabilities have every opportunity to succeed. In addition, Rodney Hood of JP Morgan Chase spoke about the successes of the new Conference Accessibility Initiative and how you can utilize these best practices in your work.

Looking for the resources shared at the conference? View everything on our post: “#PwDsVote Summit Live on C-SPAN 2, Follow Along From Home.”

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#PwDsVote Summit Live on C-SPAN 2, Follow Along From Home

As RespectAbility’s Campaign 2016 and People with Disabilities Summit on Enabling Access and Opportunities for All kicks off, viewers at home can join in on the fun as C-SPAN 2 is airing the entire conference live.

The entire conference on democracy and access for people with disabilities will be airing live from 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and then again from 1:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET. If you don’t have cable, you will be able to see it via their website at the online C-SPAN 2 live events page.

This is a really important breakthrough as a disability voter/access training has never been shown on national television before and 56 million Americans have disabilities. Check out the full schedule and join us for as much as you are able!

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Campaign 2016 and People with Disabilities: Enabling Access and Opportunities for All Schedule

 A Special Summit for Campaign Consultants, Hill Staff and Disability Leaders

August 8, 2016 

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Voters with Disabilities and the Issues that Matter: From Employment and Empowerment to Criminal Justice and Beyond – Who are Americans with disabilities, and what do we want?

  • Lauren Appelbaum, Director of Communications, RespectAbility
  • Philip Pauli, Policy and Practices Director, RespectAbility

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM: PANEL – Don’t Forget People with Disabilities: Ensuring Events are ADA Accessible

  • Marian Vessels, Director, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
  • Rodney Hood, Corporate Responsibility Manager, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Moderated by Lauren Appelbaum, Director of Communications, RespectAbility

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM: Break

11:00 AM – 11:10 AM: Rep. Brad Sherman Delivers Remarks

11:10 AM – 12:15 PM: PANEL – Campaign 2016 and Beyond: Insights on the Media, Campaigns, Public Policy, the Supreme Court and People with Disabilities

  • Eleanor Clift, Washington Correspondent, The Daily Beast
  • Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Clarence Page, Columnist, Tribune Media Services
  • Richard Wolf, Washington Correspondent, USA Today
  • Moderated by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, RespectAbility

12:15 PM – 1:15 PM: Lunch Break

1:15 PM – 2:15 PM: PANEL – Reaching All Voters by Making Electronic Communications Accessible

  • Shelia Newman, President, New Editions
  • Brooke Oberwetter, Manager of External Affairs for Policy, Facebook
  • Cindy Ryan, Executive Management, New Editions
  • Moderated by Doc Sweitzer, Founder, The Campaign Group

2:15 PM – 2:45 PM: Building Electoral Power, One Voter at a Time 

  • Ted Jackson, Disability Outreach Director, Democratic National Committee
  • NOTE: We have invited the RNC to send a representative. 

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM: Break

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: PANEL – Empowering Americans with Disabilities to Participate in Political Process at the Grassroots Level

  • Justin Chappell, Democracy and Outreach Coordinator, RespectAbility
  • Dahlia Joseph, Former Communications Fellow, RespectAbility
  • James Trout, Policy and Democracy Fellow, RespectAbility
  • Moderated by Ben Spangenberg, the Special Assistant to the President, RespectAbility

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: AWARDS – 2016 Best in Public Service Awards Presented To (Awardees will Address the Conference):

  • Jack Markell (D-DE), Chair, Council on State Governments
  • Dave Hoppe, Chief of Staff to Speaker Paul Ryan


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Disability Campaign Questionnaire – Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates

RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, is preparing a nonpartisan voter guide of all viable candidates in several Senate and gubernatorial elections on a variety of disability issues. This is being done in conjunction with our online publication, www.TheRespectAbilityReport.org, which is the definitive place for voters who care about the intersection of disability and electoral politics. Fully twenty percent of the U.S. population (56 million people) has a disability. With the addition of family members of people with disabilities, that percentage increases exponentially to include one in every three households in America affected by disability.

We have email lists of people in each state who have disabilities and/or a family member with a disability. We will share unedited responses with these lists as well as with members of the press who cover these issues in each state.

Our voter guide will be electronic and thus it is vital for candidates to put their positions on their website and give us the specific links to the places they want us to share with the disability community. They may choose to answer each question individually for people with disabilities (PwDs), or to mention PwDs within a larger plan (i.e., your jobs, national security and crime plans) for the entire public.

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