Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Another woman, another sexual harassment claim (2x UPDATED)

2nd UPDATE: 9:34 p.m. EDT: The New York Times sent the following news alert at 8:56 p.m. EDT:
Joel P. Bennett, the lawyer for one of the women who has made accusations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, said that his client had decided not to go public or to make a public statement herself in an effort to shield herself from the media frenzy swirling around the situation.

“She’s not going to affirmatively make any public statements or public appearances about the case, everything will be through me,” Mr. Bennett said. “She has a life to live and a career, and she doesn’t want to become another Anita Hill.”
Meanwhile, the Cain campaign appears comfortable with the strategy it has adopted at this point -- which is to deny, deny, deny. CNN notes that reports earlier today of a third possible sexual harassment claim were quickly dismissed by Mr. Cain's representatives.

Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon told CNN that Cain "has said over the past two days at public events that we could see other baseless allegations made against him as this appalling smear campaign continues.
"He has never acted in the way alleged by inside-the-Beltway media, and his distinguished record over 40 years spent climbing the corporate ladder speaks for itself," Gordon said. "Since his critics have not been successful in attacking his ideas, they are resorting to bitter personal attacks. Mr. Cain deserves better."
1st UPDATE: 6:47 p.m. EDT: The Cain campaign is accusing another Republican presidential candidate of initiating the stories about allegations of sexual harassment. Politico sent the following news alert at 6:32 p.m. EDT:
Herman Cain adviser Mark Block accused the Rick Perry campaign Wednesday of orchestrating POLITICO's story that revealed allegations of personal misconduct against Cain during his time at the National Restaurant Association. "The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable. Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology," Block said in an interview on Fox News. "Both Rick Perry and POLITICO did the wrong thing by reporting something that wasn't true."

Block named Perry adviser Curt Anderson, who advised Cain's failed 2004 Senate campaign and now works for Perry, as a key link between the Texas governor and the POLITICO story. Anderson has flatly denied that. Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said Block's attack was entirely without basis: "No one at our campaign was involved in this story in any way. Any claim to the contrary is patently false. The first we learned of it was when we read the story in POLITICO." 

Mr. Cain himself mentioned Mr. Anderson in an interview he gave earlier today with Forbes.

In the summer of 2003, Cain recalls briefing Anderson—his general campaign consultant at the time—that sexual harassment claims were brought against him while he was chairman of the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999.
“I told my wife about this in 1999 and I’ve got nothing to hide,” Cain told me Wednesday. “When I sat down with my general campaign consultant Curt Anderson in a private room in our campaign offices in 2003 we discussed opposition research on me. It was a typical campaign conversation. I told him that there was only one case, one set of charges, one woman while I was at the National Restaurant Association. Those charges were baseless, but I thought he needed to know about them. I don’t recall anyone else being in the room when I told him.”
Curt Anderson phoned me to say “I never heard about this story until I read about it in Politico. I have nothing but good things to say about Herman Cain. I’m not going to bad-mouth Herman Cain to anyone, on or off the record. I think he is a guy of great leadership and integrity.”
Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said it was “patently untrue” that the Perry campaign had any role in placing the sexual harassment story with Politico.
Aside from knowing about the alleged sexual harassment accusations, Cain campaign officials point to the timing of Anderson’s hiring by Perry as evidence of his involvement. The campaign announced Anderson’s role on October 24, just a week before Politico broke the story.
Does he regret telling Anderson about it? “I don’t regret it at all,” Cain says. “The guy who was supposed to help with strategy should know everything. I put it on the table right from the get go. I wasn’t trying to hide it.”
 ORIGINAL POST: That drip, drip of bad news involving Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain appears ready to become a flood.

The Associated Press reports that a third woman is now claiming she was sexually harassed by Mr. Cain while she worked for the National Restaurant Association.
The employee described situations in which she said Cain told her he had confided to colleagues how attractive she was and invited her to his corporate apartment outside work.
She spoke on condition of anonymity, saying she feared retaliation.
Cain's campaign declined to comment.
And, as CNN notes, a man who served as a consultant for the NRA during Mr. Cain's time there also reports seeing him act inappropriately. 
Oklahoma Republican political consultant Chris Wilson confirmed to CNN that he witnessed Herman Cain demonstrate inappropriate conduct toward a female employee while he led the National restaurant Association. Wilson first made this charge Wednesday in an interview with KTOK, an Oklahoma radio station.

In that interview, Wilson-who is doing polling for a political action committee supporting Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign but is independent of it–described an incident with Cain and a female employee.

"This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it," said Wilson, who was a consultant for the organization at the time, in the KTOK interview. "It was only a matter of time because so many people were aware of what took place, so many people were aware of her situation, the fact she left-everybody knew with the campaign that this would eventually come up."
Wilson would not elaborate beyond his comments to the radio station. He has dismissed any notion that he commented on this for political reasons. He told CNN "I had nothing to do with leaking this in any way, and I've never discussed or shared this story with any of my clients – period."
The aforementioned woman's claims come the day before the attorney for another woman who claims sexual harassment is scheduled to meet with representatives from the NRA. In that meeting, the woman's attorney is expected to ask for a waiver to a confidentiality agreement the woman signed when she left the organization a few months after accusing Mr. Cain.

It is my sense that the window of opportunity for Mr. Cain to come clean has now closed. I believe the damage being done to his campaign cannot be undone. No, that doesn't mean his presidential ambitions are finished, but it does mean that he'll be dogged by the image of a sexual harasser as the campaign moves forward.

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