Three women activists called Tuesday for Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo's top two rivals, Republican Allan Fung and independent Joe Trillo, to specify whether they support or oppose Brett Kavanaugh's U.S. Supreme Court nomation.
“A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, that will fundamentally shift the balance of the Supreme Court, is on the line," Sulina Mohanty, chairwoman of the Women's Caucus of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, said during a Statehouse news conference. "Mayor Fung and Joe Trillo, Rhode Island voters deserve to know where you stand. We need to know where you stand.”
Raimondo's Democratic campaign publicized the news conference and it was attended by a few members of her campaign. Asked about that, Mohanty said the issue of sexual assault transcends partisan lines.
Monahty was joined in speaking during the news conference by state Sen. Gayle Goldin (D-Providence), a Raimondo supporter, and Deborah DeBare, the longtime former director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, now senior deputy director with the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
In a statement, Fung declined to specify whether he supports or opposes Kavanaugh's nomination.
“As a former prosecutor, I know that it takes a lot for victims to come forward. Every one of them should be able to tell their story, and then Mr. Kavanaugh should have a chance to respond. I am glad the Senate is pausing to hear these women out,” Fung said a statement.
Trillo was also non-committal. In a statement, he said, "Anytime an allegation like this is made, it needs to be taken seriously. I would like to see these women come forth, and testify, as soon as possible. At that time, the Senate Committee needs to make a decision, whether these allegations need further investigation."
Emily Samsel, a spokeswoman for Raimondo's campaign, said Raimondo's opposes Kavanaugh's nomination. With the nomination still under consideration, Raimondo supports an FBI investigation of claims of sexual assault made by two women against Kavanaugh, Samsel said.
Goldin, who attended a few hours of a confirmation hearing for Kavanaugh, said some of his answers were evasive. She said Trillo and Fung should make their views known on his nomination. "I'm here today because women are watching," she said. "and frankly, we've had enough. We do not need more politicians who are going to turn a blind eye to Trump and stand by while we confirm a man to a lifetime position," while he faces allegations of sexual harassment.
DeBare said the response to Kavanaugh's nomination seems like it came out of a time 35 or 40 years ago. She said it's very difficult for victims of sexual assault to publicly share their experiences, and that they should be believed when they do.
This report has been updated.