Organizing for Action, the organization that promotes President Obama’s agenda, sent an email blast to supporters Thursday quoting a debunked claim about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“It appears that some members don’t think addressing this issue is necessary,” wrote Lindsey Siler, OFA’s national director of issue campaigns. Siler was referring to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed to pass a Senate vote on Wednesday.
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even referred to it as a ‘bizarre obsession,’” reads the email from OFA, which has been estimated to have nearly 30 million email subscribers.
But the claim that McConnell was addressing pay-equity legislation was debunked well before OFA’s email was sent.
The New York Times, which first claimed that McConnell was addressing pay-equity, had to issue a correction on a story it ran Tuesday.
“An earlier version of this article misidentified the target of criticism by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, as the Senate prepared to vote on legislation meant to close the pay gap between men and women,” wrote the Times on Wednesday.
“When he referred to ‘the left’s latest bizarre obsession,’ he was criticizing Democrats’ attacks on David H. and Charles G. Koch, conservative billionaires whose political organizations have spent more than $30 million on ads so far to help Republicans win control of the Senate,” the Times continued.
“He was not referring to the pay-equity issue.”
A transcript from McConnell’s remarks on the Senate floor provide the context for his ‘bizarre obsession’ comment.
“Meanwhile yesterday, here in the Senate, Republicans were hoping the Democrat Majority Leader would finally work with us to pass a job creation package that contains ideas from many of our members — legislation with provisions several key Democrats support too,” said McConnell, referencing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“But that’s not what the Majority Leader chose to do,” he added. “Instead of focusing on jobs, he launched into another confusing attack on the Left’s latest bizarre obsession.”
Reid has denounced David and Charles Koch numerous times on the Senate floor, recently going as far as calling them “un-American” for political ads aired by American for Prosperity, a group partially supported by the Kochs. (RELATED: Harry Reid: Koch brothers ‘un-American’)
In tying McConnell’s comment to the pay-equity issue rather than Reid’s focus on the Kochs, OFA followed the lead of a slew of liberal outlets. Think Progress, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos and The Huffington Post all repeated the Times’ now-corrected claim.
The so-called gender pay gap has been a hot-button issue of late. Obama announced Tuesday “Equal Pay Day” and signed into law two executive decisions which will allow employees of federal contractors to openly discuss their wages.
Debate has also raged this week over the oft-made claim that female workers earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
“On average, women in America currently make just 77 cents for every dollar that men earn — if you think that’s a real problem, you need to do something about it today,” Siler wrote in Thursday’s email.
Critics of the number say that the reported gap does not take into account several variables including work experience, hours worked, and career interruptions stemming from life events such as pregnancy.
A spokeswoman for McConnell’s campaign hit back at the Obama grassroots group in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“If there was ever any doubt about OFA’s interest in truthfulness, this settles it,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore.
“Less than a day after repeating this claim became the journalistic gold standard of dishonesty, OFA is eagerly pushing it out again just to make a buck. They’re not only trafficking in brazen falsehoods at this point, they’re insulting the intelligence of the people on their list.”
OFA’s Siler did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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