Domestic abuse allegations plague multiple GOP candidates ahead of midterms

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At least five top-tier Republican candidates have been accused of domestic violence. All have denied the allegations against them.

Domestic abuse allegations are dogging a number of Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with multiple GOP hopefuls in critical battleground races facing questions about past alleged conduct, which they have emphatically denied.

On Tuesday, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham accused former White House aide Max Miller, a fellow Trump alum, of domestic violence, claiming in a Washington Post op-ed that she told both former President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump about Miller's alleged actions.

Back in February, Trump endorsed Miller's bid against Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January. Gonzalez announced his retirement in September.

"A White House staffer accused of assault by a woman whom the president knew and trusted? It didn’t even seem to register on the president’s radar screen as a concern," Grisham wrote in the op-ed. "To the contrary, knowing what he knows, Trump has endorsed my ex's bid for Congress. The takeaway: Dealing with abuse claims is not in his interest, but having someone in office who will be a rubber stamp for his agenda is."

Miller, for his part, denies the allegations, and filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing Grisham of making "libelous and defamatory statements" about him.

Also on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Sean Parnell, a GOP candidate running for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat in 2022, is trying to get a judge to seal custody records with his wife, Laurie Parnell, who in the past filed "protection-from-abuse orders" against him.

The Post-Gazette reported that the protection-from-abuse orders were "short-lived" and were ultimately dismissed and wiped from the record.

Parnell is seeking to keep his wife from talking about the nature of those orders via a court order, claiming it would hurt his children. Parnell's wife and her lawyer pushed back, according to the Post-Gazette, with the latter arguing in a statement that the move was allegedly intended to "protect his true character and actions from being shown to the public."

Like Miller, Parnell also earned Trump's endorsement for the Pennsylvania race, an open-seat contest critical to determining which party controls the Senate.

Trump-backed Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker has also been plagued with domestic violence allegations.

According to court records obtained by the Associated Press in July, Walker's ex-wife accused him of pointing a gun at her head and saying, "I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out" prior to their divorce in 2002. In a divorce filing, she claimed that Walker was allegedly "physically abusive" and exhibited "extremely threatening behavior."

She secured a protective order against Walker in 2005, according to AP.

Walker has denied the allegations, saying in 2008 that he didn't remember the gun incident.

In August, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also obtained a 2012 police report detailing similar allegations from one of Walker's alleged ex-girlfriends. According to the report, the woman accused Walker of threatening to "blow her head off" and kill himself after she tried to end their relationship.

No charges were ever filed.

Walker, through a spokesperson, denied the allegations to the Journal-Constitution, claiming they had been resurfaced "purely for political mudslinging, which is irresponsible and wrong."

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is running for Senate, has also been scrutinized over past allegations.

Greitens was forced to resign as governor in 2018, after his former hairstylist accused him of sexually assaulting her and taking nude photos of her without her consent, in order to force her silence about their affair. A 2018 report from the Missouri state legislature detailed the allegations.

Greitens admitted to the extramarital affair shortly before the allegations went public, but denied taking the nude photograph or blackmailing the woman. A related felony invasion of privacy charge against Greitens was later dropped after investigators were unable to find the photo or locate proof that he took the picture.

Republican Larry Elder, who failed to unseat California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom back in September, has also faced down his own abuse allegations.

According to Politico, Elder's ex-fiance, Alexandra Datig, filed a police report in August accusing Elder of "several incidents of domestic abuse" when the pair lived together. Datig accused Elder of pulling a gun on her in 2015, when she broke off their engagement. Elder has denied the allegations.

The allegations could complicate the midterms for the GOP.

While Elder is unlikely to win a possible second attempt to unseat Newsom, and though Miller's seat is likely GOP-safe in 2022 — Trump carried it by 14-point margin in 2020 — both the Pennsylvania and Georgia Senate contests are battlegrounds and must-win races for both parties.

Republicans fear Missouri's Senate seat, for instance, could be in play if Greitens is the nominee. And the party is already worried that Walker imperils its chances of ousting Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia. President Joe Biden was the first Democrat since 1992 to win Georgia at the presidential level, and the state's diversifying electorate could make it more and more competitive as the years go on.

Though Parnell has Trump's endorsement, one of his GOP opponents, Jeff Bartos, has argued that the abuse allegations, despite being expunged, make Parnell "unelectable" in a general election. (Biden won Pennsylvania by 1.2 points in 2020, greater than Trump's 0.7-point victory four years earlier.)

It's unclear what impact the domestic violence allegations will have in any of the races. But with the Senate at an even 50-50 split, every race counts, leaving both parties with no room for error.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.