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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Allegations: Everything We Know So Far

In the 1990s, Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment by two different women

The Politico broke the story:

"During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures."

After the Herman Cain sexual harassment story broke, a third woman came forward with allegations

The Associated Press reports:

"A third former employee considered filing a workplace complaint against Herman Cain over what she considered aggressive and unwanted behavior when she and Mr. Cain, now a Republican presidential candidate, worked together during the late 1990s, the woman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. She said the behavior included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.

The woman said he made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against Mr. Cain, who was then the head of the National Restaurant Association.

She did not file a formal complaint because she began having fewer interactions with Mr. Cain, she said. Afterward, she learned that a co-worker—one of the two women whose accusations have rocked Cain's campaign this week—had already done so. She said she would have had to file if they hadn't."

A sexual harassment accusation is just that. It does not prove the accused is guilty.

After being so outraged at the media lynching of Julian Assange over flimsy sexual harassment allegations, I know better than to politicize something that is not political. I am not siding with Herman Cain here, but I'm not siding with the accusers either. I don't know what happened. And you don't either. Just because you like Herman Cain (or are even gullible enough to think he'd make a good president), that does not mean he didn't do this. And just because you dislike him (even if you dislike him as much as I do), that does not make him guilty. DON'T politicize this.

Evidence that the Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations might be false

Here's one bit of speculation by Erick Erickson with some pretty strong reasons to doubt the validity of the allegations:

Below is all informed speculation on my part. I could be off base. But re-reading everything so far, looking at the timeline, and drawing on my past experience as a lawyer doing sexual harassment cases, I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened and what the ramifications are...

We have a lot of people who have no knowledge of the sexual harassment, but we also have two documented cases of sexual harassment. How is that possible?

Remember — this is 1999. Bill Clinton has just been impeached over sexual harassment related issues and lying about it. The left that fell in line and pretended it didn’t matter was in a redemptive kick taking any and all allegations of sexual harassment seriously to repent.

Herman Cain is the CEO of one of the top 25 trade associations in Washington, D.C.

Had he sexually harassed someone, the victim would stand to make a killing.

And yet, despite the climate that existed in 1999, the Human Resources Director of the National Restaurant Association does not even recall investigating.

So what happened? Again, it is all informed speculation on my part, but what I think happened is that Herman Cain did, in fact, pass the buck to the association’s counsel because he was conflicted out. The counsel looked into it, decided it was a nothing burger, decided a settlement was the cost of doing business, and didn’t even run it up the flag pole. The association’s counsel with another executive or two would have had the power to do that. They probably gave Herman Cain an executive summary of what happened and over eleven years it faded from memory.

The lawyer and executives who handled it deemed it so insignificant that Human Resources was not called in and the matter was disposed of. Eleven years later everybody forgot about it except a handful of people, including someone who was on the Board of Directors and heard the rumors, backed another Republican in the 2012 race, and decided it could be a useful hammer to use against Herman Cain if needed. So that person told their preferred candidate and, when Herman rose to glory and couldn’t get taken out in mid-October’s CNN debate, that campaign leaked it to the Politico.

Because eleven years had passed, people’s memories were fuzzy and Herman has such an upstart campaign the Politico could run the story, sensationalize the hell out of the Cain campaign’s flat footed response, and get huge traffic to their website.

And that flat-footed response? It was due to a rather insignificant matter eleven years ago that few people even remembered. The change in Cain’s story from no settlement to there being a settlement? He no doubt called the general counsel of the association, who had worked for Cain back in 1999, and had his memory refreshed.

The settlement? $35,000.00.

When you file sexual harassment against the head of one of the top 25 trade associations in Washington the year after Bill Clinton is impeached for sexual harassment related lies, you’re going to get more than $35,000.00 if you have a real claim, even if that is your entire year’s salary.

Hat tip: Memeorandum

Evidence that the Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations might be true

But even Erickson says that a "wild card" lending credibility to the allegations is that there were two of them, not just one. And as reported above, there are now actually three allegations, granted that the third one has come a decade late and on the heels of a national news controversy over the original two allegations.

What could be especially indicative that these harassment allegations are true, however, is the word of a political consultant who claims he witnessed the harassment himself and that if the woman he witnessed being sexually harassed by Herman Cain is allowed to speak, it will be the end of his campaign:

'Interviewed today on KTOK's Mullins in the Morning, Wilson, of Wilson-Perkins-Allen Opinion Research headquartered in Washington, D.C. explained he was a witness to the incident. "I was the pollster at the National Restaurant Association when Herman Cain was head of it and I was around a couple of times when this happened and anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time, knew that this was gonna come up."

Wilson described the woman as a low level staffer who was maybe two years out of college. "This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it," he continued. "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 said for legal reasons, he can not discuss details of the incident. "But if she comes out and talks about it, like I said, it'll probably be the end of his campaign."'

Hat tip: Memeorandum

And that just might happen: An attorney for one of the accusers says Cain has violated the terms of the agreement, allowing her to speak

The Hill reports:

'The lawyer for one of the women who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment said his client might get a chance to speak publicly about the allegations because the GOP presidential candidate violated the confidentiality agreement between the two.

Attorney Joel Bennett told CBS’s "The Early Show" on Wednesday that his client hasn’t spoken publicly because of the confidentiality agreement, but that Cain’s comments might have cleared a path.

“There was more than one incident that my client received sexual harassment,” Bennett said. “She would like to speak out for the record, only because Mr. Cain has stated that he didn’t sexually harass anyone, that there wasn’t any substance to the allegations, and basically made it look like she was some type of frivolous claimant looking for money.”

According to Bennett, one of the stipulations of the confidentiality agreement was that neither party could make disparaging remarks about the other. Bennett said Cain violated that agreement on Fox News on Monday when he said that he had been told that the accuser’s performance in the workplace “was not up to par.”'

Hat tip: Memeorandum

Herman Cain says the Perry camp is behind the recent media revelation of the past harassment allegations

Forbes reports:

'Was the recent attack on Herman Cain’s presidential campaign a professional hit job? Absolutely, says Herman Cain. And he says he knows just where to look for the guy who did it: At 815 Slaters Lane in Alexandria, Virginia, a low-slung former warehouse in the shadow of a coal plant.

There, beside rusting rail lines, is the home of OnMessage Inc., a Republican-leaning consulting firm recently hired to bolster Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign.

One of the firm’s partners, Curt Anderson, worked on Cain’s losing 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. Cain thinks he’s the hired political gun who leaked details to Politico, a Washington trade publication, of alleged “sexually suggestive behavior” Cain is said to have exhibited towards two women while he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. That story set off a media frenzy which has quickly put Cain’s campaign on the defense.

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.”'

Hat tip: Memeorandum

The most interesting story here might be how Herman Cain has reacted to the sexual harassment allegations. After playing the race card before, he was comfortable doing it again.

Jennefer Rubin writes at The Washington Post:

Herman Cain risks losing his charm. His initial appeal was as an optimistic, business-oriented outsider. He ridiculed those African Americans who were herded into the Democratic Party by naked racial politics. But now he sounds like Barack Obama’s most irritating supporters, claiming the criticism directed at him is all a matter of race.

His super PAC sent out a fundraising appeal with this plea: “Herman Cain is winning the Republican race for President. So the left-wing media has swung into action. Just like they did to Clarence Thomas, they are engaging in a ‘high tech lynching’ by smearing Herman Cain’s reputation and character.” That charge was repeated by conservative celebrities ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter.

Cain himself is the source of much of this talk. There was this exchange on Fox News:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Mr. Cain, when Clarence Thomas was near to achieving position of high authority, he was hit with a sexual harassment charge.

You, contending for presidency nomination, the office of highest authority, leading in the polls for the Republican nomination, all of a sudden get hit with a sexual harassment charge. Do you think that race, being a strong black conservative, has anything to do with the fact you’ve been so charged? And if so, do you have any evidence to support that?

CAIN: I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it. But because I am unconventional candidate running an unconventional campaign and achieving some unexpected unconventional results in terms of my, the poll, we believe that, yes, there are some people who are Democrats, liberals, who do not want to see me win the nomination. And there could be some people on the right who don’t want to see me because I’m not the, quote/unquote, establishment candidate. No evidence.

KRAUTHAMMER: But does race have any part of that? Establishment, maverick, yes. What about race?

CAIN: Relative to the left, I believe race is a bigger driving factor. I don’t think it’s a driving factor on the right. This is just based upon our speculation.

This is reprehensible, the sort of racial inflammation that, when practiced by the left, infuriates conservatives. Who is he accusing of racism — the Politico reporters? The women who made the claims in the 1990s? The media for covering allegations that he admitted were true (e.g., his employer settled at least one sexual harassment claim)?

Hat tip: Memeorandum

And in his analysis, Erick Erickson points out the colossal level of incompetence Cain has exhibited in responding to this development:

On Monday, Ken Vogel of the Politico told Wolf Blitzer that about ten days prior to that interview the Politico approached Herman Cain and inquired about the sexual harassment. He said Cain had ten days...

The Cain response is going to destroy his campaign if they don’t act quick. There are reports out today that Cain refused questions, asking the media if it understands the word “no.” That’s not exactly something to say when the issue is sexual harassment and no meaning no. More troubling, his staff began pushing reporters...

Remember again please, Herman Cain had ten days to get in gear and prepare a response. He did not do it. Regardless of the facts or merit of the case, that’s a problem. [bold emphasis original]

Hat tip: Memeorandum

Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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