Back to mobile

Greg Abbott Scores an Own Goal on Equal Pay

by Published on
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
Patrick Michels
Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott at a campaign event

Today, Peggy Fikac and a team of reporters at the San Antonio Express-News had the kind of story that’ll have state politics reporters walking around Austin aimlessly, asking themselves why they aren’t more enterprising. (Maybe it’s just me.) Amid a sprawling fight between Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott over equal pay laws—Davis authored one last session that earned wide bipartisan support, and until today Abbott wouldn’t say if he would veto it like Perry did—Fikac got salary data for employees of Abbott’s attorney general office, and identified instances of unequal pay between women and men.

Some of the features Fikac describes about the AG’s employee pool would be true of just about any large office in America. Though there are more female employees overall, there are more male employees at the top of the organization and a greater share of women at the bottom. That results in an average salary for men at the AG’s office of $60,200 a year, and $44,708 for women. Of course, that doesn’t account for differences in position, experience and time with the agency.

But when Fikac narrows it to one group of employees—the 722 assistant attorneys general Abbott oversees—there’s a roughly $6,000 discrepancy in annual salary. ($79,464 for men, $73,649 for women.) Abbott’s office argues, again, that this is based on a difference in experience.

Abbott’s office said the men on average had more than 16 years of being licensed, while the women had nearly 14 years. The men had an average of nearly 104 months of service, while the women had more than 92 months, his office said.

And when the Express-News narrows down the employee pool even further, Fikac finds that rationale doesn’t always hold up.

Of seven different classifications of assistant attorneys general, the average salary for men is higher than the average salary for women in six of them, with the difference ranging from $647 to $4,452. In one category, the average salary for women is $3,512 higher than that for men. In three categories, the women on average either had more years of service or had been licensed longer, or both, despite being paid less, according to figures from the attorney general’s office.

The situation in Abbott’s office, of course, is part of a much wider problem. Cases like these don’t require active prejudice or intentional discrimination (though that sometimes happens too.) Elsewhere in the article, Abbott touts the number of women the agency has hired during his tenure, something he’s probably genuinely proud of.

Pay discrimination happens because of entrenched institutional and personal biases and assumptions—ones the people responsible for hiring and setting salaries may not even be aware of. It doesn’t mean someone said: “I’m going to pay women less.” It’s not because women aren’t “better negotiators,” as the executive director of the state GOP recently said, or because Texas hasn’t amped up “job creation” enough, as the director of the RedState Women PAC recently said (before she said a lot else.) So why not give women more tools and legal leverage to address pay discrimination, to balance out the fact that many institutions—often without malice—value their work less than their male counterparts? Let’s go live to Attorney General Abbott:

Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott would not sign a measure to make it easier for women to bring pay discrimination lawsuits in state court if he were governor, a spokesman said Wednesday, hoping to get past an issue that has dogged the campaign for weeks.

So sayeth the man  today to the Associated Press, after a lengthy period of equivocating on the issue of whether he’d veto it. From a political standpoint, this seems like an incomprehensibly weird move. Will the Davis campaign stop hammering Abbott over this issue now that Abbott has swept away doubt from his position? The opposite! He’s given the Davis campaign—even more than they had before—a clear line to use against Abbott: “Abbott opposes making it easier for women to demand equal pay.” Pay equity is something women really care about. And he did it, apparently, just hours after a major newspaper raised substantial questions about pay equity at his own office.

Until recently, it seemed like the Davis campaign couldn’t stop scoring own goals. But Abbott’s campaign and his supporters—though they have a much, much greater margin of error—have been having a rough go of it since that Ted Nugent campaign event last month. What’s next?

Christopher Hooks joined the Observer in 2014. Previously, he was a freelance journalist in Austin, where he grew up. His work has appeared in Politico Magazine, Slate, and Texas Monthly, among others. He graduated from The New School in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in history.

  • http://brainsandeggs.blogspot.com/ PDiddie

    I reject the premise in the headline, because I’m pretty sure Greg Abbott cannot kick a soccer ball. (Is that insensitive?)

    • 1bimbo

      insensitive? maybe… tacky? yes, but so goes free speech

      • http://brainsandeggs.blogspot.com/ PDiddie

        Yes, and so is “running” for governor. Tough, tacky, pesky things, them facts.

        • 1bimbo

          so sorry for the wanna-be elistist texasOb but the futball(with an umlaut) metaphor doesn’t register with 95 percent of texans… ‘own goal’, really?

  • MSM

    Um… so far Davis thinks to win on Ted Nugent and this equally dense and complicated argument. I can see the average voter drooling and walking off after just hearing a few of those numbers.

    Yeah… it’s a little silly to say Davis is winning momentum… in fact it’s downright delusional.

    • frumpus

      Spoken like a true retard who doesn’t want fair pay for women

      • MSM

        aw… I see you escaped from the institute again. Clearly, you must be a very lonely and scorned individual.

        I am a woman. But you’re clearly not. And my point was merely that it’s delusional to think this will shift any momentum to Wendy. This is not going to change anything. No one but the most radical on the left will give a rat’s ass about this. And democrats screaming this will help change the outcome of this November is silly.

    • http://brainsandeggs.blogspot.com/ PDiddie

      You’re obviously not a woman… or a man who cares for any.

      • MSM

        Uh… yeah I am woman. But yeah who cares?

  • 1bimbo

    ///i’ll bet many of the women in abbott’s office probably prioritized raising children over career at times, with that comes a salary outcome-as it should be, however choosing to raise children is worth more than any salary, i applaud women who make that choice, obviously it makes sense that those who embrace the looney worldview of ‘egalitarianism’ and misandry would support a female candidate who walks out on her own children///

    • Becklev

      You mean you’d never support a female candidate who worked hard to get an education. There, FIFY.

      • 1bimbo

        of course i would … however, i do not support pro abort misandrists

        • Mandidev

          Name calling always works when you have no facts. Nice move.

          • 1bimbo

            that’s an accurate description, not name-calling

        • Becklev

          So being pro-choice equals hating men? Nice try.

          • 1bimbo

            ‘pro-choice’rs (pro aborts) are typically childless bitter single women(description-not name-calling) who marginalize and demonize men, they pretty much align with mothers who would walk out on their own children, advocate for late-term abortion and dump their husbands after they foot the college bill

          • Becklev

            Way to stereotype women like myself; I’ve been married to a man for almost 22 years, and lived with him for almost 25. No kids by choice, not infertility, and I stick up for my many male friends when I think they’re right. And if you take the word of a bitter ex-husband over that of not only her, but their children, well then, it sounds to me like you’re the bitter one.

          • 1bimbo

            stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re true. what on earth you have against children i cannot fathom. however i understand narcissism is a very compelling motivator for childless women who are fertile. perhaps you’re not a man-hater but i’m not convinced you have a symbiotic relationship with men, in your world, i suspect men just ‘donate’ the sperm-therefore they have no say in an abortion ‘choice’…in mine, men are equal partners in reproductive responsibility and accountability

          • Becklev

            I have nothing against children; I have 9 nephews and 3 nieces, and they will all tell you I am their favorite aunt. I simply feel no great urge to reproduce myself. Why is that so scary to you? Do you think every woman is, or should be, cut out of identical dough to the same shape, and baked the same shade of tan? It is misogynists like you who promulgate false stereotypes.

          • 1bimbo

            i can make any amount of money i want. i was raised with a philosophy of exceptionalism and self responsibility-not a victimhood mantra. i have free will. i am an empowered conservative woman and very proud of that

          • Becklev

            Not wishing to reproduce equals victimhood? And what does how much money you make have to do with anything? You sound very confused. Get some help.

          • 1bimbo

            supporting a narrative of helpless women needing a state law stacked on an existing federal law equals victimhood. and we agree on one thing: ‘how much money you make’ has little to do with anything – especially if you’re a good mother

          • Becklev

            So if you work full time, or more, and you do your job at least as well as your male co-workers , you would be content if you found out your paycheck was only half as much? You would view that as justice? If you are actually a woman, I think you would not. I think you would feel that your two lumps being north of your waist rather than south of it did not make you worth only half as much. And if state law allowed your employer to hide that knowledge from you, and foreclosed any justice if you did find out, I doubt you would actually think that WAS just. So odds are you are a man telling lies.

          • 1bimbo

            i can’t even fathom your mentality, if a woman wants to be paid more, then ask for more, if the company won’t pay more then go to work for another company who will pay you what you think you’re worth. this isn’t complicated. and never….EVER…does ‘the state’ have the right to thumb through, review or manipulate a law-abiding private business’ pay checks. …. by the way you must be so used to women who tow the victim line, you can’t fathom one with as much confidence and self-actualization as a conservative woman. i birthed babies, baby. your argument that i must be ‘a man’ is further evidence of your denial of the true strength and courage of the fairer sex.

          • Becklev

            Oh, please. If every company does the same thing because the law allows it, and if it’s a time of high unemployment (like now) so your choices are limited, what then? Suck it up, right? Which means work for half pay, right? And that’s empowering? Yeah, you’re a man for sure.

          • 1bimbo

            who’s the most unemployed bunch? progressives….as you demonstrate ‘no i can’t’ seems to be the battle cry for the bunch, it’s not just me who’s running out of patience and tolerance for the liberal philosophy, the vast majority of the country is as well. you’ll see what i mean during the midterm elections. and yes, conservative women like myself and the ones in my family, in my workplace and in my community will have their voices heard

          • Becklev

            Conservative men, you mean. Midterm electorates are always older, whiter and more male than Presidential years so yes, I expect conservative men to make gains. But I notice you still refuse to engage with the specifics of what I say. Instead you resort to name-calling and aspersions on women, which is how I know you really are male. So have a good night, sir, I’m getting some sleep. I have work in the morning.

          • 1bimbo

            conservative women vote, no doubt. i can understand why you’re so bitter that the vast majority of texas women don’t identify with wendydavis, as a matter of fact, many can’t relate to the decisions she’s made in her life. her support groups are obama supporters, nostalgic guilt-ridden ex-hippies and self-loathing single women. that explains her poor showing during the primaries-only 400,000 votes compared to abbott’s 1.2MILLION. that’s a dose of reality that will swim around in your nightmares-gnite to you

          • Becklev

            Conservative women vote as their husbands tell them to, and I know that for a fact. I lived in Tennessee and Kentucky and now in Texas, and I can’t tell you how many conservative women told me that they were waiting for their husbands to tell them how to vote, so their votes wouldn’t cancel each other out. Yeah, that’s really proud independence. Good luck selling that one, Sir.

          • 1bimbo

            just making it up now, but then again that’s what progressives do…lie

          • Becklev

            Nope, not making it up, Sir. I’ve done political campaign work in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas. I don’t need to make up a blessed thing.

          • 1bimbo

            your credibility level has sunk to negative figures

          • Becklev

            Yeah, right. Whatever. Good night.

          • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

            I wouldn’t say that as a general rule that TX women vote as their husbands tell them to. There may be some – they tend to be uber religious & very conservative.

          • Becklev

            I don’t say all women do either. I’m saying that very conservative women, especially older ones or in small towns, do so. I’ve been a political operative long enough, and talked to enough of them, to have heard it many times.

          • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

            Bullshit. Fairer sex? It isn’t easy in today’s world to just quit your job because you don’t make what you want. Demanding more money often gets you fired. It isn’t being a victim to demand that women make the same amount as a man for doing the same work.

          • 1bimbo

            glenna, we are in agreement then, that is unless you’re trying to feed me the slop narrative that somehow conservative women don’t support equal pay. what we don’t support is superfluous state laws for political gain by a democrat candidate when there’s already a federal law which allows for restitution

          • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

            Just because a woman doesn’t want children or a couple do not want children – it does not follow that they hate them or have anything against them. Every child should have parents who genuinely want them & not every woman will be a good mother. 99% of the prison population are there because of a lack of bonding or attachment. That means that 99% of these had mothers who really weren’t good mothers & probably had no father to speak of.

          • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

            As far as I know, Mr. Davis supports his ex-wife.

          • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

            Well, I am a pro-choicer… I am married to a wonderful man & I know many other wonderful men. I have 1 daughter of whom I am very proud. Again, you stereotype women & cling to half truths. There are just as many men who graduate from college after their wives have worked to put them through & dump them. Besides you have no idea about why the Davis’ divorced. They grew apart according to the daughters – but then you would rather believe the spin than the truth because it fits with your warped values.

          • 1bimbo

            you can shill for the davis’ campaign all you want, but if i were you, i’d at least ask for payment, after all she’s paying millions to men who clamored to texas from the obama and the harry reid campaigns, i wonder if the women in the davis campaign are being paid as much as zac petkanas and jeremy bird-doubtful

        • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

          Also, When presented with the decision to carry her baby to term when a teenager, she chose to carry it rather than abort it. So you cannot call her a pro-abortionist – not that there is any such term. She merely believes that the only people who have a right to the decision to carry a baby to term are the woman who is carrying the baby & those the birth will directly impact. You are not pro-life merely anti abortion & you clearly will never have to make this decision anyway. You are the one not in possession of facts because you have mentioned only untruths or half facts. No name calling from me.

    • frumpus

      you are the biggest piece of dog excrement on the planet

      • 1bimbo

        martin bashir, is that you?

    • http://brainsandeggs.blogspot.com/ PDiddie

      “probably” not

    • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

      Wendy Davis, however did not “walk out on her own children”. Apparently you choose to believe non facts rather than truth. Her children both wrote letters condemning the Republican lie machine & they made it very clear that their mother did not leave them – that there were reasons the girls (one of whom had graduated) lived with their Dad & that both parents made decisions about raising them together even after the divorce. It would be nice if you cut women some slack. of course, you would applaud women who made the choice to “stay home” but that isn’t the issue here anyway.

      • 1bimbo

        davis’ children lived with her for a year while she attended harvard, then they lived with their dad for the remainder of davis’ schooling, they divorced, their children chose to live with their father, she split without her daughters. that’s truth … not some white-washed political talking point

  • PouponMarks

    Myths, lies, and deception. What are the facts, data, and empirical evidence?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/

    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/miarticle.htm?id=4483#.U0RDbFfWjYQ

    This is an issue of demagoguery and deception by lying politicians. For suckers, sleazy pols, and low/no info voters, ie, Boobus Americanus.