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Dems Harris, Hirono silent on charity fundraiser invitation to take Polar Plunge in pool of ice water

Knights of Columbus in DC says it hasn't heard back

Photos by Zach Gibson/Getty Images (left) and Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images (right)

Sen. Kamala Harris ( D-Calif.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) have yet to answer an invitation from the Knights of Columbus to leap into a pool of ice water, according to the Washington Examiner.

Why were they asked?

The Catholic organization invited the two lawmakers after they both said they believe the group has extreme beliefs because it opposes a "woman's right to choose," according to the report.

"We recently read about statements which expressed the fear that the Knights of Columbus held many extreme beliefs," the Knights of Columbus Capitol Hill council wrote in a Dec. 22 letter to the senators. "It is our great pleasure to assure you that this fear is not grounded in any truth. The Knights of Columbus in general, and O'Boyle Council in particular are dedicated to the three fundamental principles of charity, unity, and fraternity. We wish to formally invite you all to join us for any social or charitable event. In fact, this February we are doing the Polar Plunge to raise funds for DC Special Olympics. You and anyone you know are more than welcome to join us either jumping in the cold water or sponsoring our team."

Harris and Hirono have yet to respond, the report stated. To participate in the plunge, they'd have to jump into a freezing above-ground pool in Washington on Feb. 2.

So far, the group has extended two invitations. One was delivered electronically and the other was hand-delivered.

"So far we have not heard a response back from either Senator or their staff," Knights of Columbus Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle Council 11302 Financial Secretary Patrick Abbott told the news outlet.

Harris and Hirono criticized the Knights of Columbus in questions they sent to federal court judicial nominee Brian Buescher in early December, according to the report.

Hirono believes the organization has taken extreme positions on certain issues, including its opposition of gay marriage in 2008. Harris asked Buescher if he agreed with the group's position on abortion and if he was "aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman's right to choose when you joined the organization," the report states.

How was their criticism received?

Buescher reportedly responded by saying he did "not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of 18." He added that the group "is a Roman Catholic service organization with approximately two million members worldwide. The organization has a religious and charitable purpose."

During the annual Polar Plunge event, D.C. residents, politicians, athletes, and members of the media help raise money for the Special Olympics.

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