Report: Third Former Employee Claims Sexual Harassment By Herman Cain
The Associated Press is out with a story guaranteed to keep the Herman Cain sexual harassment story in the news for several more days:
A third former employee says she considered filing a workplace complaint over what she considered aggressive and unwanted behavior by Herman Cain when she worked for the presidential candidate in the 1990s. She says the behavior included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.
She worked for the National Restaurant Association when he was its head. She told The Associated Press that Cain made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against him.
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.
This woman isn’t covered by a confidentiality agreement, obviously, so she’s free to speak with whatever members of the media she likes. No comment on the truth or falsity of the allegations at this point, although the lack of a contemporaneous complaint is something I’m sure Cain’s supporters will point to in his defense. In any case, though, it’s pretty clear that this story isn’t going away any time soon.
In other news, a veteran GOP pollster says that he witnessed one of the incidents at issue in the original report and that Cain’s campaign is in serious trouble if the details come out:
A veteran Republican pollster and former National Restaurant Association employee said Wednesday morning that Herman Cain sexually harassed a woman at an Arlington, Va. restaurant in the late 1990s.
Chris Wilson, now the principal of an Oklahoma-based GOP consulting firm, said in an interview on Oklahoma City’s KTOK radio station that the episode took place in the neighborhood where Cain kept an apartment when he headed the restaurant trade group.
“This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it,” Wilson said on the station. “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.”
In an interview with POLITICO, Wilson said he was present for the episode and that it took place in the late-90s.
Wilson also said the following:
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.”
The consultant said Cain is digging himself a deeper hole by challenging the woman. He also believes it has put the Restaurant Association in a position where it will have to release the woman from her confidentialilty agreement. “If she talks about it, I think it’ll be the end of his campaign.”
It’s worth noting that Wilson’s polling firm has ties to Rick Perry’s campaign, although that doesn’t definitively prove anything.
In any event, this is beginning to resemble the familiar drip-drip-drip of revelations we’ve seen in other Washington scandals. They seldom end well for the target.
Update: And, there’s more:
In a cryptic comment made at National Journal’s Election 2012 Preview event Tuesday, Mark Block, Herman Cain’s campaign manager, made reference to an incident involving Cain and a receptionist for a radio talk show host.
Asked by panel moderator Beth Reinhard whether he could guarantee that there’s not more information forthcoming about his past, Block began his answer with a blanket denial, followed by what seemed to be a description of an unreported recent incident involving Cain.
“Mr. Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story,” he said. “As the hours go by, it’s interesting that we even hear from a radio talk show host of Iowa that a receptionist thought that Mr. Cain’s comments were inappropriate.”
POLITICO has learned that the incident involved a staffer for Steve Deace, an influential conservative talk radio host who hosts a nationally syndicated show in Des Moines. And Deace says he did take offense.
Deace, who penned an opinion piece critical of Cain earlier this month, told POLITICO in an email that Cain said “awkward” and “inappropriate” things to the staff at his station.
“Like awkward/inappropriate things he’s said to two females on my staff, that the fact the guy’s wife is never around…that’s almost always a warning flag to me,” Deace wrote. “But I chose to leave that stuff out [of the opinion piece] and make it about his record and not the personal stuff.”
Pressed about what exactly Cain said to the employees of his show, Deace responded by describing how he himself treats his staff.
“Many a man has been done in by the inability to control his urges,” Deace wrote. “I am no different and just as vulnerable as any other man, which is why I put safeguards around me and hold myself accountable to my wife and other men in my life. Especially since I have very talented employees that happen to be women. I go out of my way to treat them like my sisters. For example, I wouldn’t tell them or any other woman I am not married to nor related to how pretty she is.”
Asked how Block would know that the women at the station were uneasy about Cain’s behavior, Deace said he didn’t know.
“No idea, to the best of my knowledge neither me nor anyone on my staff has ever spoken to Block,” said the talk show host.
And it continues