US Congressman Ted Yoho resigns from Christian organisation's board

Fallout from calling congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez a ‘f—ing b—h’

A United States congressman has been forced to resign from his position as Board member on a Christian organisation, Bread for the World, because last week he called a congresswoman a “f—ing b—h” in a fiery confrontation on the steps of the US Capitol building.

Bread for the World is a Christian collective that lobbies government decision-makers to work on policies and programs to end hunger nationally and globally. On Saturday, the organisation released a statement saying they had met with Republican congressman Ted Yoho and asked for his resignation for behaviour “not reflective of the ethical standards expected of members of our Board of Directors”.

“Ted Yoho’s recent actions and words as reported in the media are not reflective of the ethical standards expected …” – Bread for the World

“As a bipartisan Christian organisation committed to alleviating hunger and poverty through sound public policies, Bread for the World upholds the values of respect, dignity, and compassion that Jesus calls us to when engaging decision makers from across the political spectrum. We believe that Rep. Ted Yoho’s recent actions and words as reported in the media are not reflective of the ethical standards expected of members of our Board of Directors,” the organisation’s statement says.

Last week Yoho – the Republican representative for Florida’s 3rd congressional district – was accused by congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of calling her a “f—ing b—h”. Ocasio-Cortez’s account was confirmed by a journalist from The Hill newspaper, who overheard the exchange last Monday in Washington DC and reported it first.

“Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez she was ‘disgusting’ for recently suggesting that poverty and unemployment are driving a spike in crime in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic,” reported The Hill‘s Mike Lillis. “‘You are out of your freaking mind,’ Yoho told her.”

Ocasio-Cortez reportedly shot back, telling Yoho he was being “rude”.  Then, as she moved away, Yoho reportedly called her a “f—ing b—h.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – also known by her initials AOC – is the Democratic representative of New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes part of New York City’s Queens and the Bronx districts.

Taking office at age 29, Ocasio-Cortez gained international attention as the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. She was elected in June 2018 after defeating Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley – a 10-term incumbent – in a major party upset.

AOC advocates a progressive platform that includes Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, the Green New Deal, and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Theodore (Ted) Yoho has represented his district since 2013 after he also defeated long-term incumbent U.S. Congressman Cliff Stearns, who was first elected in 1988. In December 2019, Yoho announced he would not run for re-election to Congress in 2020, due to an earlier “term limits” pledge that he had made.

“I cannot apologise for my passion …” – Ted Yoho

Last Wednesday, following reports of his confrontation with AOC, Yoho took to the floor of the House to deliver an apology of sorts.

Without naming Ocasio-Cortez, he apologised for the “abrupt manner of the conversation I had with my colleague from New York” and said “I cannot apologise for my passion” over the issue of poverty – because he had experienced poverty himself.

Yoho denied calling AOC a “f—ing b—h” and said, “Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognisant of my language. The offensive name-calling, words attributed to me by the press, were never spoken to my colleagues, and if they were construed that way, I apologise for their misunderstanding.”

On Thursday, AOC took to the floor herself and rejected Yoho’s apology saying “this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of a lack of impunity, of acceptance of violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that.”

AOC rejected Yoho’s apology: “I do not need representative Yoho to apologise to me. Clearly, he does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not. And I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over … using abusive language towards women. But what I do have issue with is using women, wives, and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behaviour.”

“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters … I am someone’s daughter too.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The young congresswoman went on to deliver a speech that many Australians have noted is like a 2.0 version of former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s famous “misogyny speech“.

“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this house towards me on television, and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men,” AOC said.

Bread for the World said that seeking Yoho’s resignation was “an action that reaffirms our commitment to coming alongside women and people of colour, nationally and globally, as they continue to lead us to a more racially inclusive and equitable world.”

“During this critical time in our nation in which millions depend on U.S. government leadership and improved public policies that centre on those most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, it is our hope and prayer that government leaders will find the moral courage and political will to foster healing and civil dialogue that leads to real structural change in our country and globally,” their statement said.

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