Oct. 8, 2010 -- Krystal Ball, a Democrat running for Congress in Virginia, has accused conservative political operatives of a sexist smear campaign, leaking racy photographs of her taken at a holiday costume party.
Ball, 28, a first-time candidate, said the images were taken six years ago, soon after she graduated from college. The images, which depict Ball in a short skirt and Santa Claus hat posing with her husband, an unidentified woman and a sex toy, were first posted on the conservative blog Virginia Virtucon. The photos have since gone viral, spreading all over the Internet and making Ball one of the most searched terms on Google.
Virginia Virtucon has since removed the photos from its website.
Ball accused her Republican opponent, Rep. Rob Wittman, the incumbent, of being behind the pictures' publication. Wittman has denied any involvement and called from the pictures to be taken off websites.
Running as "a fresh face for Virginia," Ball had previously received little national attention, running in a district that traditionally swings Republican.
In a YouTube statement, Ball, who co-owns an educational software company with her husband, said she was embarrassed by the images but mostly "angry" and said she was being held to a double standard as a woman.
"It's sexist and it's wrong, regardless of political party," said Ball. "And I have a message for any young woman who is thinking about running for office and has ever attended a costume party with her husband or done anything stupid on camera. Run for office. Fight for this country. Don't let this sort of tactic deter you."
"Of course, I am embarrassed by these photos. That was the whole point of these political operatives when they put them up," she said. "But more than just embarrassed, I'm angry. I'm angry that when we are suffering from high unemployment, record budget deficits and a broken education system, that crass political operatives will resort to the politics of personal destruction when they can't talk about the issues."
Ball said there was "double standard" for women, pointing out that Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., had "posed nude in a centerfold and people didn't talk too much about that."
Ball said other women candidates, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, had similarly been smeared and held to a different standard.
"I disagree very much with Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell, but they've gone through a similar smearing. It's not fair when it's done on the left. It's not fair when it's done on the right," she said.