John Cornyn Punches At “Reporter” Who Asks Him About His Vote to Protect Companies Who Ignore Rape

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Watch it for yourself – he punches the guy's camera, not the reporter/blogger, but the effect is the same:

Now, I'm really not in favor of blindsiding elected officials. I think it makes bloggers look like paparazzi. Then again, it was a public building, and according to the tape, Mike Stark (the guy filming this) was never impeding anyone's progress — which is what he was (apaprently) instructed to do.

The issue he was confronting Cornyn on was a simple one: Cornyn was one of 30 Republicans who voted against an amendment “that would prevent the Pentagon from doing business with contractors who force employees into binding arbitration over rape and sexual assault charges.” More from The Nation:

In April of 2008, KBR employee Dawn Leamon went public. A few months earlier, she had been raped and sexually assaulted by co-workers while deployed at Camp Harper, in Iraq, and after weeks of being pressured not to report the incident, forced to work alongside her attackers, and medically neglected, Leamon brought the story to a Houston attorney and to The Nation. Leamon joined a slowly building chorus of female defense contractor employees who'd been raped or sexually assaulted by co-workers while in Iraq, to utter impunity on the part of their assailants. In response, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called a hearing to investigate why the Justice Department had not prosecuted any sexual assault allegations in Iraq since the going to war in the country.

When it turned out that defense contractors often required employees, as a condition of employment, to submit to binding private arbitration in disputes with the contractors (including allegations of sexual assault), instead of bringing complaints to public courts, and that the Department of Defense claimed they couldn't prosecute for this very reason (even though these clauses only prevented civil suits), Senator Ben Nelson, who called the hearing, offered a simple solution: “This might be something you want to require and include in your contracts–before you award them,” Karen Houppert reported in The Nation.


Predictably, Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed Franken's bill. “Congress should not be involved in writing or rewriting private contracts,” he argued. The bill was, he maintained, a “political amendment at bottom, representing a political attack on Halliburton.” In fact, the amendment only goes so far as to require contractors doing business with the government to permit employees to sue civilly in the “most egregious violations,” Franken emphasized in a statement. (For less egregious matters, contractors can still require employees to waive their right to sue and submit to arbitration.) 

Mike Stark wanted to know why John Cornyn defended contractors who said willingly chose to ignore rape. Cornyn chose to punch the guy / his camera.

Stark has confronted other elected officials about this, and none of them acted so over-the-top. Go check out his blog — — to see more.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

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