Martha McSally: Warrior woman hides from questions, constituents, inconsistencies

Pima County marriage record for Martha McSally.

If there were a race between Senator Jon Kyl and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who would you vote for?

The CD2 race is just that. Former Kyl employee Martha McSally is running against former Giffords employee Ron Barber.

Whose legacy would better serve Southern Arizona? That of a right-wing, anti-woman, every-man-for-himself, war-monger who never ventured south of his Tucson Foothills office or that of a reasoned, pro-choice, pro-public health Blue Dog who wasn’t afraid to meet constituents?

As a long-time resident of Giffords’ district, my experiences yesterday made up my mind. Yesterday, I thought I was going to meet the Warrior Woman who hopes to take the CD2 seat– you know, the one who says she “resemble[s] Gabby Giffords more than the man who worked for her”– but she was a no show.

McSally is no Gabby Giffords

Giffords was not afraid to face constituents and answer tough questions. McSally apparently doesn’t have the nerve to answer questions that are not softballs from right-wing commentators. (Sounds like something Jon Kyl would do, huh?)

I had a scheduled interview with McSally to discuss women’s issues (since she now claims to fight for women’s rights, while being anti-choice); the multiple inconsistencies in her platform (believing in the “sanctity of life”, while flying 325+ hours as a bomber) pilot; and rumors circulating about her two-year marriage to Donald Henry in 1997 (what’s up with that annulment in Santa Cruz County, when you were married and lived in Pima County).

When I showed up at her office, video gear in tow, I was given mush-mouth excuses from her press secretary and campaign manager. “Gosh, she’s so busy.” (My guess is they Googled me and said, Yikes– we’re not talking with her!)

Not surprised that McSally bailed on a video interview with a feminist who wanted to ask about women’s issues, I went to her constituent event at Nimbus, down the street. I waited with about 30 old white folks on the Nimbus patio for 45 minutes. Eventually, McSally staffers said, “Gosh… she’s so busy. She doesn’t have time to come and talk with you all today. Scheduling conflicts, you know… blah, blah, blah.” Since when does a politician in a tight race not have time for a meeting with rich, old white folks?   (Was it something I tweeted?)

More unanswered questions about Martha McSally after the jump.

McSally the ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Republican

McSally and Barber have had several he-said-she-said flaps in recent months. The latest dust-ups– besides who resembles Giffords more– are over an ad that labels McSally is a “recipe for disaster” and the charges that she is a “cookie-cutter” Republican. The AZ Blue Meanie— never one to mince words– says that when McSally claims the recipe for disaster ad is sexist, she sound more like a whiner than a warrior. Personally, I don’t find the ad sexist. So what if they used recipe cards as a graphic motif? McSally’s claim of sexism is a deflective tactic to avoid answering the ad’s charges that she wants to privatize Medicare and Social Security– which she touts on her website. Not to sound sexist, but man-up, McSally.

As for her denial that she is a “cookie-cutter” Republican, if you read her website, that’s exactly what she is! In a nutshell, she’s for lower corporate taxes, she’s anti-choice, she’s for repealing the Affordable Care Act (with no ideas what to do next except to march backward), she’s pro-war, and she uses the Republican talking points about lower taxes and increased privitization. The pablum on her website could have been written for Jeff Flake, Jon Kyl, John McCain, Paul Ryan, or Mitt Romney.

If Jan Brewer is George Wallace in a dress, Martha McSally is Jon Kyl in a dress.

Martha McSally's 2012 Campaign Website
Martha McSally’s 2012 Campaign Website

McSally the fighter for women’s rights

On some level, McSally is a feminist. I do not discount her stance against forcing military women to wear Arab garb when they leave the base or her accomplishment on being the first female bomber pilot, but aside from her personal feminist accomplishments, her opinions are anti-woman… just like Kyl.

1- McSally is anti-choice. McSally’s website says she believes in the “sanctity of every human life”. This, of course, is newspeak for being anti-abortion. You can’t be a “fighter for women’s rights” and be anti-abortion…period. The most basic right women in the US have been fighting to keep is the right to make decisions for ourselves. “Small government” McSally is in lock step with the humorously inconsistent Republican stance of wanting to control women’s decisons about their own bodies, while promoting a less intrusive government. WTF? I guess the less intrusive government only applies to people with penises. If American woman are not allowed to make their own family planning decisions, are burkas in our future? American women are at war, but unlike McSally’s air wars, ours is a groundgame for our future and the future of our daughters and granddaughters.

2- McSally would repeal the Affordable Care Act on Day One. This is an anti-woman, pro-corporate stance– just like Kyl and the other “cookie cutter” Repbulicans. Remember Kyl’s infamous comments that since he’s a man he shouldn’t have to pay for maternity care?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes hard-fought provisions for women’s preventive services (like mammograms, contraception, and maternity care); bans insurance companies from charging women more for insurance coverage; eliminates bogus pre-existing condition exclusions; covers adult children; and eliminates bankruptcy-producing lifetime insurance caps. The ACA is pro-woman and pro-family.

McSally is in the cookie cutter Republican “repeal and replace” camp when it comes to healthcare. Like Romney, Ryan, and Congressional Republicans, she offers no ideas regarding what to replace the ACA with– excpet a return to our failed market-driven, corporate-friendly healthcare nonsystem of the past. With this stance she shows how little she actually cares about the “sanctity of every human life.” I am no fan of the ACA– mostly because it is overly complex and it is still more of a boon to private insurance companies, than to the American people. But it’s a step in the right direction. Tinker with it to improve it? Absolutely. Repeal and replace? No way. That is a waste of time and a stalling tactic to help big business rake in greater profits at the expense of the American people.

3- How can McSally be ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-war’? War– and the resulting poverty and displacement caused by it– are women’s issues. In war, women see their husbands and sons killed, they see their homes and countries destroyed, and they are often the victims of rape and personal violence. McSally is a bomber pilot who has flown more than 325 hours of combat missions. How many human lives has she taken? How is murder aligned with her Christian faith and her belief in the “sanctity of every human life”? Again, this is another “cookie cutter” Repbulican stance. Romney, Ryan, Flake, Kyl, McCain, Palin– they all claim to be pro-life, deeply religious people, but they are all pro-war.

Questions about McSally’s past

One person never mentioned on McSally’s website is he ex-husband and fellow Air Force officer Donald F. Henry. First, let me say, I don’t care if McSally has a short-lived, failed marriage in her past; millions of middle-aged American women carry that baggage. I only bring this up because there are rumors circulating around Tucson about the marriage, and I believe that the campaign should issue a statement to clarify the circumstances surrounding the marriage and subsequent annulment two years later.

Pima County marriage record for Martha McSally.
Pima County marriage record for Martha McSally.

According to Pima County Court records (above), McSally and Henry were married in Tucson in 1997. Two years later on November 29,1999, McSally and her high-priced, Tucson-based divorce lawyer traveled to Santa Cruz County to have the marriage annulled (below). This was not a divorce.

The petition said that “the Court finds [sic] number of grounds for granting this annulment.” In order to get an annulment in Arizona, “there must have been something called an impediment that renders the marriage void.” According to the University of Arizona Family Law Research Guide

Some examples of situations that may qualify as “voidable” are an undissolved prior marriage, one party being underage, a blood relationship, the absence of mental or physical capacity, intoxication, the absence of a valid license, duress, refusal of intercourse, fraud and misrepresentation as to religion.

Why was there an annulment and not a divorce? And why was the annulment in Santa Cruz County– which conveniently doesn’t have online record searches– and not in Pima County where McSally and Henry both had houses? Obviously, this gives the appearance that there is something to hide.

Rumor has it that McSally and Henry had a sham marriage of convenience. Except for allowing each party to keep his or her own house, the annulment document shows very little division of property beyond a few knick-knacks, a truck, retirement accounts, and credit card debt.

There are multiple rumors on the Internet about McSally being a Lesbian. I don’t care if she is gay and is in the closet. I do care if she had a sham marriage to avoid being outed– since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was in full swing in the late 1990s. I also care about this issue because McSally’s rhetoric is decidedly anti-gay— particularly when it comes to gay marrriage– yet another “cookie cutter” Republican issue. Is McSally another one of those Republicans who talks loudly against gays and then turns out to be one?

The public has a right to know who they’re voting for. This is an issue of truthfulness, transparency, and integrity. It’s time for McSally answer these questions publically.


Scan of McSally's Santa Cruz County annulment.
Scan of McSally’s Santa Cruz County annulment.





  1. She’s a lot smarter than you Jeff. Envy is an ugly thing. just try to improve your own life, don’t try to make up for your shortcomings by denigrating successful people. especially those that protect your right to sound off..

  2. I DO care if she is in the closet. Closeted politicians are VERY dangerous for the LGBT community as they must constantly prove their hetero bona fides by sponsoring or supporting anti-gay legislation and policies!

  3. What a partisan, media-whore rag this blog is. If this is where you get your news to make decisions you ARE the problem. YUK!!

  4. As someone who worked for Dick Cheney when he was SECDEF and who is an open gay man, McSally screams out as a closeted gay woman. Hey, I’ve lived a lie., and this smells. Why is that a concern? Well, closeted people do evil things to hide from their truth. Believe me, I know that. My ex boss when I worked in the House of Representatives was Robert Bauman, the co-founder of Young Americans for Freedom and the American Conservative Union. He was queer as a three dollar bill, yet spewed hate for gays and other really weird right-wing things to deflect attention from soliciting sex from a 16-year old boy while he was married as a conservative Catholic with four kids.

    With McSally, thank you for being a really butch gay woman warrior. That’s great. All the rest makes me squirm

  5. McSally’s strategy of shying away from voters and questions mirrors that of many other “cookie cutter” Republicans. After she bailed on my scheduled interview with her, I asked her staffers if she would take questions at the constituent event. They said, “Well, if she has time, maybe one or two questions.” One or two questions in a 2-hour event?

  6. I find McSally’s lack of candor and unwillingness to meet with voters and potential constituents troubling. It also directly parallels the campaign of one Vernon Parker.

  7. Your right. Funny coincidence, I’m both, a warrior rocket scientist. Lol. Maybe I should give another go.

  8. Right on, Francine. Pay Day Patton is a robber baron and a shill for shady financial dealings.

    Just look at the sheer number of bills that were introduced under Pelosi vs Boehner. She could be the poster child for dancing backwards in high heels.

  9. So, you’d rather have Payday Paton??? Remember two facts: On the first day, when they organize and vote for a speaker, if Democrats are in the majority Democrats will have the agenda. Second thing to remember: the lesser of the evils is IN FACT – the lesser of the evils! Now, try this – close your eyes and think what you would rather have : a Democratic majority or a Republican majority?? Me? I’ll take the Democratic majority and a Nancy Pelosi speaker of the house instead of Boehner!!!

  10. Thanks for the great article, Pam, and for getting “all of that” off of our collective chests. Duck and hide is the Republican strategy from top to bottom. That’s what happens when one tries to preserve the indefensible status quo from an onslaught against the palace doors. Once the old warriors and their pretenders fall, we shall have unity of purpose and action for the greater good.

  11. Good point about her fellow soldiers, Jeff.

    Yes, the constant reminder about her warrior status kind of reminds me of Ruth McClung’s “I’m a rocket scientist!”

    Yes, it’s appropriate for her to tell us about her military record and to be proud of it, but this late in the election cycle we more details– which she is unwilling to give– again, another “cookie cutter” Republican tactic.

  12. Thanks, Steve. Hmmm… seems as if McSally has a pattern of not keeping her commitments– particularly when they involve talking with constituents who may not agree with her 100%.

    Facing a barrage of intelligent, thoughtful questions from Drinking Liberally is not for the faint-at-heart. I remember the night several years ago when Gabby faced 50-60 people on the patio of The Shanty at a Drinking Liberally event. She fielded a mix of tough questions for about 2 hours. That took courage. Although I didn’t always agree with Gabby, I felt that she listened and that she made thoughtful decisions.

    McSally obviously shies away from political challenges. She’s no Gabby Giffords– the real CD2 Warrior Woman.

  13. I keep wondering, McSally is not from this area, does not know this area and, when she was to do a town-hall even got lost trying to find Elfrida. What’s she wanting THIS office for? McSally has ZERO ties to this part of the state and I just get the feeling this district is nothing but a stepping stone for her political career and nothing ore.

  14. good article pam, and thank you for researching it. i’ve had some of these same thoughts about mcsally myself. her constant touting of her military career gets very tiresome. her strident and combative manner would not play well in the lege, as she wouldn’t be a “team” player.

  15. Great journalism Pam. Considering her self promoted heroics, I’ve always had problems with Martha McShamy. Now, after reading this, I have no doubt that there is something hidden behind that “warrior” facade. Your speculation is very compelling. It only makes sense this was a sham marriage considering her future in the late 1990’s. Her quest for power could have been stymied if she is homosexual, even being single was considered less appealing when being vetted for leadership positions in the USAF.

    I also want to know why her subordinate squadron members have never back her “self promoted” heroics.

  16. I’ve already voted for Ron Barber and recommend him to EVERYONE as the right choice for us in the House.

  17. Well done! You have done a fine job of unvarnishing Martha McSally. No, we don’t want Jon Kyl in a dress representing corporte interests on a right-wing agenda. I especially support your observing the gross hypocrisy of those expressing the “sanctity of life” viewpoint while supporting the expansion of US military might and its inevitable outcome: wars, wars, endless wars.

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