Mitch McConnell’s campaign responded to accusations he is paying “for young men to practice groping” after a photo of teens in “Team Mitch” shirts posing lewdly with a cardboard figure of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez surfaced.
“These young men are not campaign staff, they’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country,” the Kentucky Republican senator’s campaign manager Kevin Golden said, according to The Washington Post.
“Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life sized cardboard cut outs of any gender in a manner similar to what we saw from President Obama’s speechwriting staff several years ago,” Golden continued, referencing a photo of speechwriter Jon Favreau groping a cutout of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that sparked significant backlash in 2008. (RELATED: Mitch McConnell Falls Outside His Home, Fractures Shoulder)
Democratic New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez shared the photo of the teens Monday night on Twitter with an accompanying message: “Hey [Senate Majority Leader] — these young men look like they work for you. Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping [and] choking members of Congress [with] your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch? Thanks.”
The photo appears to have been taken Saturday at a bipartisan Kentucky political event, the annual Fancy Farm Picnic, reported WaPo. The outlet also labeled the teens as “men” in the headline and body of its story.
Some of the teens also appear to be in a photo from Fancy Farm posted by McConnell’s team on Instagram. They hold cutouts of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s faces.
The controversy comes after McConnell fell outside his home and fractured his shoulder in Louisville, Kentucky, Sunday. Some of his Senate colleagues are calling on him to reconvene the Senate to address issues of gun safetyfollowing two mass shootings over the weekend.