Vice-President Joe Biden breezed in and out of Chicago Monday to raise money for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il.) and Senate Democrats, but managed to squeeze in enough official business to get taxpayers to pay for at least part of the trip.
The Vice-President did that by joining Durbin and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a frigid groundbreaking ceremony for a new, 40-bed domestic violence shelter in the Chicago Lawn police district before heading over to the posh Mastro’s steakhouse for the Durbin fundraiser.
“Based on the division of the Vice-President’s time while in town, a formula is used to calculate how the costs associated with his trip are covered. Costs associated with political events will be divided” by the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and Friends of Durbin, the Il. Senator’s spokesperson Christina Angarola said in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Biden’s appearance at the groundbreaking ceremony for the first new domestic violence shelter to be built in Chicago in more than a decade was brief.
The Vice-President took no questions, but reminded the crowd that he and Emanuel worked together in 1994 to pass the Violence Against Women Act. At the time, Emanuel was a top aide in the Clinton White House and Biden was a U.S. senator from Delaware.
The federal legislation is credited with improving the criminal justice response to violence against women and providing services battered women and their children so desperately need.
“There’s no prison on earth like the four walls of a woman’s home when she’s battered,” Biden said.
“These are women who are prisoners in plain sight. They walk down the street every day—and they are still prisoners. Imagine the courage it takes to sneak into a closet, pick up that phone and call the city police department. Imagine the courage it takes to walk out of a home with several small children on a day like today not having any idea where you go.”
Biden said the new Chicago shelter—built, in part, with funds generated by a settlement with a strip club– will provide women with the counseling and legal advice they need to “match the courage” it took to leave the abusive situation they were in.
“In building this shelter, you’re providing so much—and just maybe preventing a homicide,” he said.