A month ago, Chris Murphy, trying to regain ground after being caught flatfooted by Linda McMahon's personal attacks, released a powerful advertisement which argued that as WWE CEO she "demeaned women to make millions in her business".
This week, Linda returned fire by releasing two similar negative ads (the "Sons and Daughters" one above and another entitled "Real Record") both claiming that Murphy's record proves that he's the only anti-woman candidate in the race, due to "chairing a state Senate committee where he killed legislation that provided medical care for rape victims because it benefitted him politically" and "paying the men on his staff 50% more than women".
The documents showing the alleged pay gap were posted on Linda McMahon's website, along with aggressive rhetoric from Linda's nasty campaign manager Corey Bliss:
"Chris Murphy has been insulting women in his office by paying them less than men, and now he's insulting the women of Connecticut by lying about his record and Linda McMahon's. Congressman Murphy has failed to stand with victims of rape, instead choosing to advance his political career. Then he used taxpayer money to exacerbate the gender pay gap by paying women 50% less than men working in his congressional office. Congressman Murphy's record shows a lack of respect for women, and he doesn't deserve to be sent back to Washington with a promotion."
What, Murphy couldn't find "binders full of women" like Mitt Romney did? Shame on him!
Battling it out through the local press, Murphy's own campaign manager Eli Zupnick told the New Haven Register that the accusation of unfair pay for women was "wildly inaccurate" and as a statistician I would have to agree:
"In Chris's office, employees receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender," said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Murphy, the congressman from the 5th District, who is in a tough race with McMahon....
Zupnick said the figures are skewed because the chief of staff, Francis Creighton, at a salary of $144,000 in 2011, was paid so much more than the rest of the workers in Washington, as well as employees at the district office in Connecticut.
Zupnick said if you compare similar positions "men and women are roughly paid the same" with some women making more.
While the top job in Washington is held by a male, he said the top person in the campaign is the finance director, Karyn Brockman....
"And since McMahon wants to talk about treatment of female employees, she may want to think about the women who worked for her who were forced to strip naked, bark like dogs while wearing collars, and subjected to simulated rape in the ring for the amusement of their male viewers," Zupnick said.
Regarding the bill he supposedly killed, Murphy has repeatedly said that he didn't force the issue as the committee's chair, because the votes required for it to pass simply weren't there at the time. Similar comments were made to The Connecticut Mirror, who also reported that the news came on a day when Murphy was at a women's issues rally where he made the following comments:
"I want to be able to tell my two sons that if you spend your life making money off of demeaning women, off of exploiting domestic violence, that you don't get rewarded with a seat in the U.S. Senate"
It's a shame that Murphy has to overreach again, as there's plenty of valid criticisms of McMahon's treatment of female wrestlers as WWE CEO (like the denial of healthcare benefits, a lax attitude to workplace sexual harassment and once firing a Diva whilst she was pregnant, as well as an even bigger pay discrepancy to point towards), but saying that she exploited domestic abuse is clearly a ridiculous stretch.
Indeed, Dave Meltzer thought Murphy missed a big trick by not pointing out the whopping differences in WWE pay between male and female performers:
"McMahon's side was so lucky Murphy's side wasn't quick on the draw, because if they examined the pay of the performers in WWE and what men and women earn on average, their TV hit piece TV commercial would make her look like the world's biggest hypocrite. People who live in wood houses shouldn't be starting fights in an industry filled with termites. This kind of goes for both candidates in that election."
Well, there's still over a week for his campaign team to do exactly that, but it's not as easy a task as it might sound, since the pay of WWE talent is not publicly disclosed, unlike his political staff. In defence, WWE would also point to their exemplary record of hiring women in senior management positions. Of course, Linda was its business manager, president and CEO for many, many years, but there's also Stephanie McMahon as Executive Vice President of Creative, Michelle Wilson as Chief Marketing Officer, Jane Geddes as Vice President of Talent Relations and Donna Goldsmith, their former COO. Thus, this is perhaps one rabbit hole Murphy doesn't want to chase Linda in WrestleLand down.