You may by now have heard about that spicy little dust-up taking place in the battle for a legislative seat to represent Spokane Valley in the state House. Yep, sex is involved -- well, at least a sexy pose by Amy Biviano, the Democratic challenger in the 4th District House race -- that appeared in Playboy magazine a long time ago.
It was 1995 and Biviano, then Amy Nabors and a college junior at Yale University, thought it would be a kick to do a topless shoot for the "Women of the Ivy League" edition of the magazine.
Biviano, who got less than $500 for the pose, says she has no regrets. In fact, back in '95, she even wrote a no-apologies explanation about her reasons for taking it off for Playboy, which included a rather prescient observation:
So do I believe that my future might be affected by posing for Playboy? Yes, I believe that it will. But, it has made a positive contribution to my lif -- I gained a sense of self-reliance which I lacked before the posing scandal.
Flash-forward to 2012. Biviano is a Sunday school teacher at a Presbyterian church, a mother, a business owner -- and she's running against GOP incumbent Matt Shea. She trailed the third-term-seeking conservative Republican by nearly 20 points in the August primary, so obviously, it's been an uphill fight.
But last Friday, the hill got a bit steeper when the right-wing, hit-piece-loving website called Western Journalism Center unearthed the risque pose and made it public.
The Center is run by none other than Floyd Brown, who has long been one of the fiercest political attack dogs in the game. Brown cemented his notorious legend as take-no-prisoners political hack in the 1988 presidential campaign, with his infamous Willie Horton ad.
Horton, a convicted killer, committed a vicious rape during a weekend furlough program, which Brown linked to Michael Dukakis, while he was governor of Massachusetts. The TV spot helped to further damage Dukakis' ill-fated candidacy.
The Daily Weekly could not reach Brown for comment.
Brown, however, told the weekly Pacific Inlander that Biviano's decision not mention her Playboy pictures on her campaign website as hypocritical. "I believe it's hypocrisy when you go from going from an ardent feminist to portraying yourself as this suburban mother with two kids going to a PTA meeting," Brown said.
For his part, opponent Matt Shea initially called the topless poses "alarming," but then chose to offer up some backhanded concern with this statement:
I am saddened by the release by a national media outlet of my opponent's involvement in pornography. I strongly condemn the release of this information. Our campaign was aware of this information several months ago, and made a very determined decision to not use or disperse this information in any way, shape, or form.
I specifically instructed the few members of my campaign team who knew of this situation to not disseminate this information, engage in negative, personal attack campaigning, even though my opponent had already done so. This type of negative campaigning is exactly what is wrong with politics today. While these revelations are indeed alarming, my heart goes out to Amy and her family. My wife Viktoriya and I will continue to pray for her."
To which Biviano responded:
A partisan, agenda-driven website has 'broken' the story that when I was a 20 year old student at Yale University, I appeared in Playboy Magazine's "Women of the Ivy League." People have asked me how I feel about this decision now, as a 37 year old wife, mother, and political candidate.
My answer is that while I would not do the same thing now, this is not something that I made any attempt to hide. I haven't brought it up in the context of this race because it has no bearing on issues in the 4th legislative district nor the person I am today.
I also stand by my character and fitness for public office. In fact, I would be happy to make character a centerpiece of this campaign. I learned a lot from my college experiences. Since then, I have gone on to build an extremely happy marriage of fifteen years, have been blessed with amazing children, have been active in my church, and have worked and volunteered to help my community while living with a disability.
I remain the only candidate in this race able to work with people of all walks of life and on both sides of the aisle. I have shown the work ethic and determination to get things done.
But the very best comment of all came from Biviano's husband, Andrew, who was Amy Nabors' boyfriend at Yale and encouraged her to do the 1995 shoot:
I'm the luckiest guy. How many guys do you know who married an Ivy League-educated Playboy model who also happens to be the most wonderful person in the world?
Nominations for Best Husband of the Year, anyone?