A few months ago, Conservative African American, Herman Cain, came from obscurity to become the front-runner in the Republican Party’s list of candidates for President of the United States. Cain’s popularity soared after the GOP presidential debate in Florida winning the Florida GOP Presidential straw poll.
Recently, Politico broke the news that during Herman Cain’s tenure as President of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in the 90s, at least two female employees complained to association officials of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable. According to the reporting, the two female employees signed an agreement and received financial settlements to leave their jobs at NRA. The agreement apparently contained language barring the women from discussing their reasons for leaving NRA.
In response to the allegations initially, Cain said that they were “unsubstantiated personal attacks” and “thinly sourced allegations.” During an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC, Mark Block, Cain’s Campaign Manager, said that Cain had “never sexually-harassed anybody.” Block said that he was “not personally aware of any settlement dealing with Mr. Cain.” At that time, according to Politico, Cain refused to comment on any settlement involving any former employee of NRA.
Cain subsequently appeared on Fox News and in response to a question on whether he had ever been accused of sexual harassment, Cain said: “I have never sexually harassed anyone, let me say that….Yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association, and I say ‘falsely’ because it turned out after the investigation to be baseless.” Cain also stated during that interview that, “If the restaurant association did a settlement, I wasn’t aware of it and I hope it was not for much because nothing happened. If it was a settlement it was handled by some of the other officers of the association that worked for me. So the answer is, absolutely not.” When asked whether or not there would be other such allegations in the future, Cain responded, “Absolutely not. If other allegations come people will simply make them up. I think that’s clear, no? No.” So initially, Cain stated that he was “not aware” if the NRA paid off any female staffer who accused him of sexual harassment, and if it did, he hoped it wasn’t for much.” Later during the day, however, NBC News confirmed that one woman received a settlement from NRA after complaining about inappropriate sexual conduct by Herman Cain although not disclosing who she was.
Since this story wouldn’t go away, the Cain campaign followed the no comment phase with the “blame game.” There was the ‘blame-the-media’ position including a statement that, “a prominent conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics.” (Actually, it would be ludicrous for liberals to disrupt Cain’s campaign because if the truth be told, they are hoping that Cain secures the Republican nomination.) Subsequently, there was somewhat of a denial of the allegations by Cain’s Campaign Chairman and by Cain, both stating that Cain had been “falsely accused” while not denying that the NRA and the victims had reached a financial settlement. Subsequently, Cain backtracked and stated that the NRA’s general counsel and the human resources department did conduct an investigation into allegations about his conduct in the late-90s. In a later interview with Bloomberg News, Cain said that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission did investigate allegations he sexually harassed an employee and found “no basis” to pursue the case. This has not yet been confirmed at this writing.
NRA released the following statement regarding allegations against Herman Cain while he was President during the 1990s:
“The incidents in question relate to personnel matters that allegedly took place nearly fifteen years ago. Consistent with our longstanding policy, we don’t comment on personnel issues relating to current or former employees,” said Sue Hensley, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Communications for the National Restaurant Association.”
For Cain not to have known that NRA had settled sexual harassment complaints against him “would be highly unusual, extremely unlikely, and I would be shocked if that were the case,” says Patricia Barasch, President of the National Employment Lawyers Association.
In an interview on Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren’s show, Cain was asked what led to the accusation. Although there were reportedly more than one complaint, Cain said he recalled just one incident. “She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying – and I was standing close to her – and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, ‘My wife comes up to my chin.'” At that point, Cain gestured with his flattened palm near his chin. “And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable,” Cain said, “something that was in the sexual harassment charge.” Cain couldn’t recall whether or not the woman complained at that time. Why was Cain standing so close to that employee?
PART II TOMORROW
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