Education Committee delays hearing following witness’ controversial writings

Posted at 1:03 PM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 18:02:06-05

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce was planning to hold a hearing Wednesday on raising the minimum wage to $15, but that was until Democrats on the committee discovered one of the Republicans’ invited witnesses had penned misogynistic and homophobic blog posts over a decade ago.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat from New Hampshire, told CNN in an interview Wednesday that during routine preparations for the hearing, her staff discovered the writings by Joseph Sabia, a professor of economics at San Diego State University, and went to the Democratic leadership on the committee, which then shared it with the majority.

A Republican spokeswoman for the committee confirmed that the hearing had been delayed because of the controversial writings.

“Members were not comfortable moving forward with the hearing,” GOP communications director for the committee Kelley McNabb said in a statement.

Sabia said in a statement that he regretted the language he had used.

“I regret the hurtful and disrespectful language I used as a satirical college opinion writer 20 years ago. My professional, peer-reviewed work on veterans’ health, school shootings, discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, the opioid crisis, and the minimum wage are a more accurate representation of my more than 14-year career as an applied microeconomist,” he said in a statement to CNN.

In a separate statement, Sabia specifically disputed that his work was homophobic.

“As an out gay man in a long-term committed relationship, charges of ‘homophobia’ because of my satirical college writings are deeply hurtful to my family,” Sabia said in the second statement. “And my record of academic scholarship on discrimination against LGBQT individuals reflects my commitment to social justice.”

CNN has reached out San Diego State University for comment.

The writings, which were sent to CNN, included one article published in 2003 on his blog that was titled “College Girls: Unpaid Whores.”

In it, Sabia, then a Ph.D student, argued “the chant of Gen. Y college babes might as well be ‘We’re here, we’re whores, get used to it!'”

“No, most girls are not actually uttering those words, but the slutty sentiments are implicit in the standard female college behavior — wearing tight shirts and pants, getting publicly drunk, hanging on every guy around, and engaging in random sex,” he argued.

Another article was published on his blog was titled “Tax gay sex.”

In it, Sabia said “(i)n gay sex, we have an activity that is clearly leading to disastrous health consequences. What rational person would engage in this sort of activity? There is only one solution- let’s tax it.”

Shea-Porter told CNN that while she was horrified by the writings, she does believe her Republican colleagues acted appropriately in canceling the hearing.

Shea-Porter told CNN that she will gather with a group of minimum wage workers who had traveled to DC for the hearing and hold a roundtable to hear their stories with some of her Democratic colleagues.

This story has been updated with additional developments.