Steve Daines’s Silence on Alexander Acosta is Part of a Pattern of Protecting Those Who Assault Women

Why is Steve Daines silent about the fact that the current Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, while U.S. Attorney, gave a sweetheart deal to billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, likely allowing him to continue his abuse of young women?

Once again, while some members of the Republican caucus in the Senate are demonstrating the courage to stand with victims of sexual abuse, Montana’s Senator Daines is letting his silence speak for the perpetrator, part of a troubling pattern Daines has demonstrated of always taking the side of those who commit sexual assault.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse lays out just how inappropriate Acosta’s malfeasance was:

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, set the tone in a Fox News interview Monday in which he called Epstein’s sentence “pathetic.”

“The guy victimized dozens, probably scores, of little girls and the sentence he got was pathetic. And every mom and dad in America — frankly, not just moms and dads, but anybody with a heart should be heartbroken by what happened to those girls, to those victims but also with the absurdity of a sentence that short.”

Republican Senator Susan Collins criticized Acosta’s failure to notify victims about the deal as the law required:

“The allegations are so horrendous and the conduct so reprehensible that standard practice would be that the victims would be notified of a plea agreement, so that, to me, is a big question,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Collins also said the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility “should take a look at the case and whether or not it was properly handled.”

And it just keeps getting worse for Acosta and for survivors of sex trafficking, The Guardian is reporting that Acosta plans to slash the budget for the agency he oversees that combats child sex trafficking by 80%:

Acosta’s plan to slash funding of a critical federal agency in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children is contained in his financial plans for the Department of Labor for fiscal year 2020. In it, he proposes decimating the resources of a section of his own department known as the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB).

The bureau’s budget would fall from $68m last year to just $18.5m. The proposed reduction is so drastic that experts say it would effectively kill off many federal efforts to curb sex trafficking and put the lives of large numbers of children at risk.

The most charitable reading of Acosta’s actions when he gave Epstein the sweetheart deal a decade ago is that he was utterly incompetent, but it seems far more likely that Acosta acted as those in the American justice system so often do, deferring to someone because of his wealth and status. He protected a serial predator of young girls because he was wealthy and connected, and his failure to do his job almost certainly ensured that more young women were assaulted, abused, and coerced.

And Steve Daines? Silent.

Is he using the power of his position in the Senate to demand that Acosta answer questions about his failure to secure a stronger deal? No.

Challenging his decision to slash funding to fight child sex trafficking? Not one word.

And this is part of a troubling pattern for Daines. He was one of the very last Republicans in the Senate to abandon Alabama’s Roy Moore despite repeated, credible allegations that Moore had abused young women. In a crowded field of male Senators who attacked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Daines stood out for his (and his staff’s) willingness to attack Blasey Ford and call her a liar.

And let’s not forget that Daines offers unqualified support for President Trump, even though 24 women have accused the President of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to rape and we all heard the President admit to assaulting women on that infamous October ’16 audio.

Maybe Senator Daines has a reason that he’s so eager to protect those who are accused of sexual assault and remain silent about those who permitted it to continue; maybe he just believes that women repeatedly lie about sexual assault; maybe he thinks that political gamesmanship is more important than sending a strong message that we must reject sexual assault.

No matter the reason, he owes us an explanation, and it’s up to the press to demand that he provide one.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Where is the uproar over Democrat Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia sexual allegations and Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam scandal over a blackface photograph.

    • In what way do those scandals excuse the way Montana’s Senator Daines has repeatedly taken the side of those accused of sexual assault?

      Usually your side is better at their sad whataboutism than this.

      • Don’t let the facts of why they as a prosecutor and his team make the decisions they made as long as you can attempt to slander anyone in the administration. Nice attempt, but any with any common sense will clearly see the motivation. See what great things it is doing for MSNBC ratings. Yes, the leaders of Resist (Hate.) How about coming up with some legislation to move us forward like health care and immigration? Waiting for the House to do something beside issue subpoenas. 2020 could be real ugly for Dems.

        • I’m eager to learn why Acosta broke the law and failed to notify the survivors as the law required. Feel free to explain that.

          • Yes, a lawsuit was filed against the Department of Justice in 2008, seeking to assert her rights as an alleged crime victim. It was only then that she learned that the government had secretly entered into a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein months earlier. Her lawsuit claimed that the deal violated the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004, which guarantees crime victims the right to be informed about developments in their cases.

            In February, a federal judge ruled in a victim’s favor, determining that the government had failed to confer with the victims before reaching the deal.

            Acosta said victims were delayed notification due to an arrangement in the plea agreement that Acosta said would allow the victims to make claims for restitution.

            Acosta told reporters that the career prosecutor said that she “did not want to share with the victims that the office was attempting to secure for them monetary compensation because she is aware that if she disclosed that, and the negotiations fell through, Epstein’s counsel would use this to question the victim’s credibility.”

            He claimed that one of Epstein’s attorneys “had already asked one of the victims, ‘Now tell me about when the federal prosecutors told you about getting money.'” Telling the victims about the agreement and potential restitution payments, Acosta said, would enable Epstein “to make the argument at trial that their testimony was compromised.” He said that when the deal went through on a Friday afternoon, with the plea scheduled after the weekend, on Monday, the prosecutor on the case “made every effort to notify the victims” over the weekend.

            The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has already launched an investigation into alleged impropriety surrounding the deal.

            Also, there is a issue of Federal vs. State Court regarding the applicability of the Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004.

            Another legal loss for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer? No problem, we know the press will not cover that, but Fox News will.

            What about Bill Clinton flying on Epstien’s jet over 26 times or the thousands of dollars Clinton Foundation or Schumer got in donations? Will he give that back.

            I see you have already judged this case. Are you one of the descendants of the Alder Gulch Vigilantes?

            • TBD

              Earlier this year, a federal judge in South Florida ruled Acosta’s deal with Epstein violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act or CVRA. When asked about that, Acosta said he was “following policy.”

              “The CVRA, according to department policy, does not attach, until a case is actually brought,” he said.

            • So Acosta is protecting the victims credibility by ending the investigation and trial confusing bit of advocacy that

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