Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis criticized Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday, saying her Republican opponent in the governor’s race didn’t give a clear answer on whether he would veto a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
During an interview with WFAA-TV on Sunday, Abbott was asked whether as governor he would veto a state equal pay act designed to prevent wage discrimination against women. Davis sponsored such legislation in the Senate during the last legislative session, and it passed through the full Legislature. But Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it, saying it duplicates federal law.
While not directly answering the question about the legislation, Abbott said he “expects” women to be paid equally to men and indicated that there are already laws in place to protect women in the workforce, citing state statutes and constitutional protections against gender discrimination.
“Greg Abbott needs to stop dodging and give a straight answer about his opposition to the Texas Equal Pay Act,” Davis said in a statement. “Hardworking Texans deserve to know if he believes in this simple principle: a full day’s work is worth a full day’s pay no matter what your gender.”
In its attack on Abbott, the Davis campaign cited 2012 census data that shows women in Texas make less than men — 82 cents on the dollar — for doing comparable work.
The issue could resonate with suburban women, a key voting group for both campaigns.
Recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune polling data shows that Abbott leads Davis among suburban women by a slim margin: 42 percent to 40 percent.
The Abbott campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Davis’ attack, but it did have a criticism of its own.
Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch called out Davis’ “questionable ethics practices,” saying she has violated the public’s trust by “profiting from taxpayer-funded contracts while she worked in the state Senate.”
Last week, the Tribune reported that Davis continues to represent several public sector clients despite saying she would put her legal work for such clients on hold if she ran for governor. The Davis campaign on Friday released a list of previously reported governmental or quasi-public entities she has represented since 2010. Davis spokesman Bo Delp said she was not taking on any new clients and is “seeking to wrap up” existing workload.
The Davis campaign retorted that Abbott’s “political attack” was attempting to distract from his own record.
Abbott has made legislative conflicts of interest a centerpiece of a far-reaching ethics reform proposal that would require more disclosure and much tighter recusal rules.
“He knows that Wendy Davis has acted with transparency, voluntarily releasing all of her public clients even though she wasn't required by law to do so,” Delp said.