Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves 'Guts And Integrity'

01/03/2014 07:51 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Erick Bennett, a conservative challenger to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who was convicted of assaulting his wife in 2003, argued that his continued denial of the charge shows his political integrity.

“The fact that I have been jailed repeatedly for not agreeing to admit to something I didn’t do should speak to the fact of how much guts and integrity I have,” Bennett, whose wife divorced him after the attack, said during a news conference Monday, captured by Bangor Daily News. “If I go to D.C., I’m going to have that same integrity in doing what I say, and saying what I do, when it comes to protecting people’s rights, as well as their pocketbooks."

Bennett’s legal efforts to fight the wife-beating charge ran out when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction in 2004. But during the news conference to discuss his primary challenge to Collins, Bennett maintained the justice system is designed to “railroad” alleged domestic abusers.

“All that needs to be done is you have to repeat what you wrote down in the police report and that allows the victim to be viewed as a credible witness,” Bennett claimed. “So basically, if someone writes something down, it doesn’t have to be true. All they have to do is repeat that on the stand. … That’s grounds for anyone to be convicted of domestic violence.”

Bennett’s comments fuel growing Republican unease with his candidacy. He posted a slew of offensive Facebook comments in December, including one calling Rep. Mike Michaud (D- Maine) a “closet homo.”

“I find those comments personally reprehensible, and I’ve heard people from across the political spectrum in Maine who share their abhorrence with those views,” GOP Chairman Rick Bennett, who is not related to the primary challenger, told Bangor Daily News last month, referring to the Facebook posts. “They do not represent the views of the Republican Party.

“I would be surprised if he gets a sufficient number of Republicans in Maine to sign nomination papers to put him on the ballot,” the GOP chairman added.

Erick Bennett brushed off the GOP during his Monday news conference, accusing the “majority” of the party of being “worried about their meal ticket losing and the people actually getting someone that’s going to represent them.”

Bennett also has managed to build a social media reputation for body-baring selfies:

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