A GOP gubernatorial candidate in Mississippi denied access to a female reporter because of her gender, the journalist with Mississippi Today reports.
Larrison Campbell was attempting to shadow state Rep. Robert Foster, one of the candidates in the state’s upcoming Republication gubernatorial primary, according to an article she wrote Tuesday night.
After requesting a ride-along with Foster in late June, Foster’s campaign director, Colton Robison, called on July 7 about joining the candidate on an upcoming 15-hour trip, Campbell wrote.
Robison allegedly told Campbell that a “male colleague would need to accompany her on an upcoming 15-hour campaign trip” because of the “optics of the candidate with a woman, even a working reporter, could be used in a smear campaign to insinuate an extramarital affair,” she wrote.
“The only reason you think that people will think I’m having a [improper] relationship with your candidate is because I am a woman,” she said.
Robison allegedly replied that the campaign “can’t risk it.”
“Perception is everything. We are so close to the primary,” he reportedly told Campbell. “And that’s why we have to be careful.”
In a statement to The Hill on Wednesday, Foster said before deciding to run, he and his wife committed to following the “Billy Graham rule” to “avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage.”
“I am sorry Ms. Campbell doesn’t share these same views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife, character, and our Christian faith,” Foster said. “We don’t mind granting Ms. Campbell an interview. We just want it to be in an appropriate and professional setting that wouldn’t provide opportunities for us to be alone.”
Campbell wrote that she and her editor agreed the request was “sexist and an unnecessary use of resources,” and she went back to Robison, saying she’d do the ride-along alone and that she would wear a Mississippi Today badge in plain view at all times.
Robison doubled down, saying “I wish it weren’t the way it is,” but that “unfortunately, this is the game we’re playing right now.”
Campbell said she has interviewed Foster several times both in person and over the phone since she broke the news of his gubernatorial campaign late last year.