GOP lawmaker holds women’s summit with topics including weight loss, gardening

A Republican lawmaker campaigning for a seventh term in Congress is holding a women’s summit this month that includes topics such as gardening and weight loss. 

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Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) is holding the event on June 9 and is pitching it as “an opportunity for women to learn about relevant topics that have a direct impact on their lives,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

The summit is scheduled to host experts on mental health, faith, and identify theft, among others. It also is planning to hold a session on financial planning for women. 

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Bilirakis defended the ideas for the sessions, saying they came from discussions with people who attended a women’s stakeholder session he held in 2014. 

“I try very hard to allow ideas and agendas to be driven by the people I serve,” Bilirakis said. “I’ve always said the best ideas come from the people.”

A Democrat challenging Bilirakis, however, said the contents of the forum are insulting given the incumbent’s voting record. 

“He uses his Congressional power to vote against women and then hosts a summit that patronizes women,” Democrat Chris Hunter wrote on Twitter.

The Times notes his legislative history on women’s issues, pointing out that he voted against reauthorizing a 2013 bill that would fund programs for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. He also voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009 that gives women more time to file pay discrimination lawsuits.

Bilirakis told the Tampa Bay Times that he has “fought tirelessly to advance causes that benefit women,” and a spokeswoman for the congressman said he had supported the original Violence Against Women Act. The spokeswoman told the Times that Bilirakis opposed the reauthorization because it “diverted a large amount of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs without any substantial proof or coherent argument that such a transfer would lead to more convictions or greater protections for women.”

The Bilirakis race is not listed as competitive by the Cook Political Report.

This content was originally published here.

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