- Jim Graham gets an A+ on abortion rights (Photo: Associated Press)
Today, Ward 1 council member Jim Graham announced that he has received a perfect rating from Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington's political action fund, making him "the thusly endorsed candidate in Ward 1" on reproductive health. But is the rating enough to clarify Graham's bizarre campaign history with the abortion issue?
"In my re-election bid, I have received a number of endorsements of which I am very proud," Graham wrote on several local listservs today. "But none are more timely than the 100% rating from Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington."
With "timely," Graham recalls the weekend anonymous robocalls dialed to members of his ward, calling the councilmember "wretched" and "immoral" and stating that "paying to take a life is evil."
The calls drudged up a year-old story in the Washington City Paper revealing that Graham had paid for a staffer's girlfriend's abortion with his credit card. At the time, Graham told constituents that the abortion loan shows that he supports a "woman's right to choice." One problem: According to court records, the woman in question testified that she had not chosen abortion, but rather that the Graham staffer had pressured her into the procedure against her will.
The PPMW rating may help focus Graham's reproductive health record back on his political achievements on the issue, which include 15 years as the executive director of D.C.'s Whitman Walker Clinic. Graham received the perfect rating for responding favorably to each question in PPMW's questionnaire on expanded abortion access, comprehensive sex education, and funding for HIV/AIDS, family planning, and abortion in the District. "We are confident that these candidates will support the values held by Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Action Fund—protecting reproductive freedom through effective political action," PPMW said in a press release. "I applaud them for promising to safeguard the rights of the women, teens and men of the metropolitan DC area to accessible, affordable and comprehensive reproductive health care.”
Alongside Graham, PPMW awarded perfect ratings to only two other local candidates: Mary Cheh in Ward 3 and Vince Gray for mayor. It did not release any information on local council and mayoral candidates who scored less than 100 percent on the questionnaire, nor those who did not return a questionnaire.
Complicating matters further for Graham: At least one of his challengers says he never got the opportunity to respond to snag PPMW's approval. "I never received it," says Ward 1 council candidate Brian Weaver of the questionnaire. "My wife and I have been financial supporters of Planned Parenthood for years," says Weaver, who adds that reproductive health has been a central issue to his campaign. "I congratulate Jim Graham on his 100 percent record, but to not receive [a questionnaire myself] is a big disappointment."
A PPMW rep says that the organization sent questionnaires to all local candidates registered with the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (Weaver is). Jeff Smith, also challenging Jim Graham in the Ward 1 race, could not immediately be reached for comment.