“Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, Inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain,” spokesman J. D. Gordon said in a statement about the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO.
Gordon said the Politico piece centered on “thinly sourced allegations” relying more on rumors than fact. “Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before–a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics,” he said.
“Mr. Cain has never sexually harassed anyone– period,” Cain chief of staff Mark Block said during an MSNBC interview Monday morning.
The Politico story claimed at least two female employees complained about sexually suggestive behavior from Cain while he served as head of the National Restaurant Association. The group reportedly paid out five-figure separation packages to the accusers. Cain’s camp has not denied outright that Cain has been accused of harassment or that the incidents led to financial settlements.
The allegations included suggestive conversations and physical gestures, according to Politico:
The sources–which include the recollections of close associates and other documentation– describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.
Host Chuck Todd on Monday pressed Block to directly respond to reports there were financial settlements issued in response to these incidents. Block responded “I am not personally aware of any cash settlement.” Block said when he asked Cain, the candidate told him “bring me some facts” and bring him his accuser. Block said anyone interested in learning the full story should contact the restaurant association.
Todd suggested the campaign’s failure to outright deny the incident is prompting a fresh round of questions.
Gordon told Politico Sunday that Cain indicated to staff that he was “vaguely familiar” with the charges and that he was aware the restaurant association’s general counsel had resolved the matter.
Gordon directly commented on the allegations in an interview with the Associated Press later Sunday. “These are baseless allegations,” Gordon said. “To my knowledge, this is not an accurate story.”
The head of conservative group Concerned Women for America is calling on Cain to directly respond to the allegations.
“Early in my career I resigned from a trade association for the exact same reason and with no financial settlement. I simply found another job,” Penny Nance told Politico. “Therefore, I know in a very personal way that sexual harassment exists and that it’s demeaning and painful. It should never be tolerated in the workforce and certainly not the White House.”
Expect to hear more on this story Monday. “Mr. Cain will be addressing it today,” Block said on MSNBC. Cain has several public events scheduled in Washington, D.C., on Monday–including appearances at the American Enterprise Institute and the National Press Club, where speakers take audience questions.