Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I want to speak! (UPDATED)

1st UPDATE: 10:07 p.m. EDT: The New York Times reports that one woman who accused Mr. Cain of sexual harassment received a $35,000 severance payment as part of her decision to leave the National Restaurant Association and to end any case against him.
The National Restaurant Association gave $35,000 — a year’s salary — in severance pay to a female staff member in the late 1990s after an encounter with Herman Cain, its chief executive at the time, made her uncomfortable working there, three people with direct knowledge of the payment said on Tuesday.
The woman was one of two whose accusations of sexual harassment by Mr. Cain, now a Republican candidate for president, led to paid severance agreements during his 1996-99 tenure as the association’s chief. Disclosure of the cases has rocked Mr. Cain’s campaign just as he was surging in polls.
That drip, drip, drip sound you hear is the indication that Mr. Cain continues to be unable to shake the allegations that he behaved improperly while he was head of the NRA. Yes, I think stories about personal misconduct largely are unimportant...unless one of the principal people involved does something to turn it into something more newsworthy.

Whether Mr. Cain is lying, stretching the truth or simply caught up in a mess that he cannot credibly talk his way out of, the fact remains that his chances of securing the Republican presidential nomination will evaporate if his words of today add credibility to his purported actions from the past.

Of course, the media ought to pay more attention to the issues in this presidential race (including Mr. Cain's rather curious comments about China not yet being a nuclear power), but when the candidate himself is now placing his credibility into question, that's simply not going to happen.

It becomes more difficult for Mr. Cain to insist he didn't sexual harass anyone and wasn't aware of any payouts to female employees when the drip, drip, drip of the evidence makes such statements appear inconceivable.

ORIGINAL POST: The Washington Post reports one of the women involved in the reported sexual harassment case against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain wants to tell her side of the story. Now.
Lawyer Joel P. Bennett called on the National Restaurant Association, where the woman and Cain worked in the late 1990s, to release the woman from her written promise not to talk about the allegations or disparage the trade group. 
“It is just frustrating that Herman Cain is going around bad-mouthing the two complainants, and my client is blocked by a confidentiality agreement,” Bennett said. “The National Restaurant Association ought to release them and allow them to respond. ”
The association, which Cain headed from 1996 to 1999, has remained mum since the story broke in Politico on Sunday evening, citing a long-standing policy not to comment on personnel issues. Cain denied the sexual harassment allegations, saying they were “totally baseless and totally false.”

Bennett represents one of the two women, who attended an Ivy League school and now works for the federal government.
Politico notes that Mr. Cain hasn't decided if he'll endorse any effort to nullify the confidentiality agreement

In my opinion, Mr. Cain needs to forcefully push for the woman's statement. Anything less than that will come across as an effort to keep something hidden. And that problem is more acute considering that the Associated Press is suggesting that Mr. Cain is having a hard time containing the fallout from the controversy.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain denied on Tuesday that he's changing his story as he struggles to contain the fallout from sexual harassment allegations that could threaten his recently surging campaign. He also suggested his race could be a factor in the storm.

The White House contender's contradictory explanations over two days have raised questions about details of the allegations from back in the 1990s and about his current ability to manage a crisis in the national spotlight. The accusations, relating to his time as head of the National Restaurant Association, have surfaced just as he's risen in national polls in the GOP nomination fight two months before the leadoff Iowa caucuses.

1 comment:

Michael Hamper III said...

It was painful to watch his comments on Fox News because you could tell he was very uncomfortable with what he was saying. It seemed pretty obvious to me that he was not telling the whole truth with all the pauses and repeating of words.