Virginia & National Media Scold Dave Brat Over Highly Offensive Remarks On Opioid Epidemic
But his comments drew sharp criticism from Spanberger.
“These comments are disturbing and damaging in the way that they belittle and trivialize addiction and the challenges facing those in recovery,” Spanberger said. “However, time and time again, Congressman Brat has demonstrated he is a politician who is more concerned with his own re-election than the struggles and well-being of people in our communities, and sadly, his comments aren’t surprising.”
“The truth is that Congressman Brat has also taken massive campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies, voted to give them a billion-dollar tax break, and voted to limit access to addiction services,” Spanberger said.
While meeting with an addiction support group of inmates at the Chesterfield County Jail, Rep. David Brat (R-VA) downplayed an inmate’s addiction worries in comparison to his own trials being the subject of attack ads.
“You think you’re having a hard time. I’ve got $5 million of negative ads against me. How do you think I’m feeling?” he said.
“Nothing’s easy for anyone. You think I’m a congressman. Oh, life’s easy, this guy’s off having steaks,” he continued. “I got a daughter, she’s gotta deal with this crap on TV every day. No one out there’s got some easy life. And you’ve got it hard, I’m not dismissing that. You’ve got some fears, real anxiety coming up with a job, and whatever. And what you’ve got to find is a support system.”
Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) during a visit with incarcerated drug addicts compared their challenges to the negative campaign ads he has faced in his reelection campaign, telling them "nothing's easy."
"You think you’re having a hard time," he said to the inmates as they told him about their struggles finding work and battling addiction, according to a local NPR station. "I've got $5 million worth of negative ads coming at me."
"How do you think I’m feeling?" he asked. "Nothing’s easy. For anybody."
A Virginia congressman is coming under fire for a tone-deaf remark made to a woman in jail who has a drug addiction.
Rep. Dave Brat was visiting an addiction support group at the Chesterfield County Jail in his home state and listening to an inmate speak about the struggles she would face when she was released.
“You think I’m a congressman, ‘Oh, life’s easy, this guy’s off having steaks every day,’” he said. “Baloney. I’ve got a daughter, she’s got to deal with that crap on TV every day.”
“So it’s tough,” Brat continued. “No one out there’s got some easy life. Right?”
In audio captured by Ben Paviour, a reporter for Richmond’s NPR station, Brat is heard commiserating with an inmate in the Chesterfield County Jail’s addiction support group. The woman relayed her fears about life after release from the system, and the Republican lawmaker responded by telling her that his life is also difficult—because of the negative attack ads he faces.
Virginia's 7th congressional district has had Republican representation since the early 1970s but Brat now finds himself in a toss-up race against Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative, who—like many Democrats in the 2018 cycle—is outraising her opponent.
She called Brat's remarks “shameful” in a Twitter post.
One inmate was particularly worried about finding a job after her release, and Brat insisted he could relate. "You think you're having a hard time? I've got $5 million worth of negative ads coming at me," Brat said on audio captured by WCVE, Richmond's NPR affiliate. "How do you think I'm feeling? Nothing's easy. For anybody," he continued.
Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat currently challenging Brat's seat this fall, soon tweeted that Brat's comparison of "the hardship of addiction and the struggles of recovery to his campaign" was "shameful." But Brat still hasn't clarified his comment, and even included WCVE's audio clip in a press release about the jail visit.