Congress

Alabama official backtracks after talking about Kyrsten Sinema’s attire

But State Auditor Jim Zeigler says to critics, ‘You can't buy this much publicity. Keep it up’

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was the target of a sexist Facebook post by Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler said he will weigh challenging Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in 2020. But on his Facebook page, Zeigler has fixated on another junior senator.

On Saturday, Zeigler posted two pictures of Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wearing a short dress and tall boots accompanied by the headline “What newly elected AZ democrat senator Kyrsten Sinema wore to work.” 

Zeigler, a Republican, originally referred to Sinema as “inappropriately attired” but edited the words out of the post an hour and a half later.

At a news conference to unveil a new infrastructure plan Monday, Zeigler defended his post, AL.com reported.

The target of the jab was Jones, who is visible just inside the frame of one of the photos, Zeigler told reporters. 

“Who accompanied new Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema (D) as she took the Senate floor improperly attired?” the original post read. “He represents these out-of-state looney tunes instead of us, the people of Alabama. Can you see him?”

The state auditor said he is collecting photos of Jones with prominent Democrats for opposition research.

Asked if some of the comments that referred to Sinema as a prostitute and a stripper were appropriate for the Facebook page of a state official, Zeigler said they were not.

“I stayed up deleting those type of comments. But some of them were coming in faster than I was deleting them,” he told reporters.

A number of the commenters also called out Zeigler for misogyny. And the fallout is not the first time he has received pushback for his comments about women.

Zeigler drew national outrage in 2017 for defending Senate candidate Roy Moore, who Jones defeated, amid revelations that he pursued and made sexual contact with teenage girls when he was a district attorney in his 30s in the 1970s and 1980s. Moore denied any wrongdoing.

“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Zeigler said at the time. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Columnist John Archibald, a Pulitzer Prize winner, likened Zeigler’s fashion criticism to “the Penguin dishing about Catwoman’s looks.”

Zeigler hit back in another Facebook post Tuesday, referring to Archibald as a “‘Poohlitzer Prize-Winning’ so-called progressive opinion writer.”

“Best free publicity I could get as I start my exploratory campaign for the Doug Jones seat,” Zeigler wrote of his critics. “Keep it up.”

Alabama voters elected Jones in a special election in 2017. He faces re-election in 2020 in a race that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Lean Republican

While no Republicans have formally announced their intention to run against Jones, considered the most vulnerable Senate candidate in 2020, Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne is expected by many political observers in the state to challenge the incumbent.

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