16 May 2012
by Alex Curtas
Heather Wilson Tolerates Bullying,
Now Fundraising With Governor Who Doesn’t
While Christie has signed the nation’s toughest anti-bullying law,
Wilson refuses to take a stand against this important public safety issue
Tomorrow, Heather Wilson will be fundraising with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the swanky 21 Club on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. While such a fundraiser is, on the surface, just another run-of-the-mill election season stop, Wilson’s recent controversial statements about bullying lend another layer to this $2,500-a-plate dinner.
Wilson was recently asked if she would support legislation – the Student Non-Discrimination Act – that protects students from the painful and dangerous practice of bullying. Wilson responded coldly that she would “tolerate” such bullying and came out against the anti-bullying legislation because, for example, she thinks it would “punish children” for expressing an “opinion” with regard to homosexuality. (You can hear what Wilson said here or here — or watch the video below.)
Legislation like the Student Non-Discrimination Act provides a safeguard for those students and young people who cannot protect themselves. Last year, in fact, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law the toughest anti-bullying legislation in the country. Christie, however, is now holding a fundraiser for Heather Wilson who has a completely different view of how to protect some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Christie gave an eloquent defense of this issue’s import when he said, “We know that students have the best opportunity to learn and achieve when they’re in an environment that’s safe and free from bullying and intimidation.” Yet, when Wilson addressed this issue she said simply, “There are things I’m willing to tolerate that I’m not willing to approve.” The differences couldn’t be any starker.
Christie’s advocacy on this issue was spurred, in part, by the tragic suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi. This video of Christie shows what an emotionally charged and important issue bullying became for him following Clementi’s death:
Governor Susana Martinez also realized what an important safety issue bullying is when, last year, she signed SB 78 into law. Sponsored by Senator Mary Jane Garcia and Representative Rick Miera, SB 78 requires all schools in New Mexico to have anti-bullying programs in place by August of this year to ensure that our students feel safe and secure in their places of learning.
Let’s hope Governor Christie will impress upon his colleague the moral importance of standing behind student safety and send Heather Wilson back to New Mexico with a deeper appreciation of this harmful epidemic that has led to so much tragedy.
UPDATE (May 17, 2012): The Sunlight Foundation had this to say about tonight’s big-wig fundraiser:
Chris Christie, big wigs, in for Wilson: On Thursday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the featured guest at a New York City reception for former Rep. Heather Wilson, now running for Senate in New Mexico. The event, at the classic 21 Club, features a slew of high profile businessmen, lobbyists and GOP fundraisers. Among them are: billionaire and grocery empire-owner John Catsimatidis, former RNC chair Ken Mehlman, former Goldman Sachs partner Lew Eisenberg, and former senator-turned lobbyist Al D’Amato. The Attendees are expected to chip in a lofty $2,500 or $5,000 to Wilson’s campaign.