Whoa: Third Woman Claims She Was Sexually Harassed by Cain - UPDATE: Team Cain Blames Perry Camp for Leak?

Posted: Nov 02, 2011 4:52 PM

I was hoping I wouldn't have to write a third Herman Cain piece today.  Then the Associated Press broke this story:

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.

That's it.  That's the entire story.  In its defense, the AP at least spoke directly to this alleged "victim," so it's a first hand account -- which is more than can be said of the Politico report.  Also, there is, you know, an actual allegation being made: That Cain flirted with a co-worker and invited her to his apartment in a non-professional setting.  Beyond that, though, this amounts to another anonymous source claiming that she once considered filing a complaint against someone a dozen years ago.  This hypothetical, never-issued complaint would have addressed Cain's supposed actions, for which we have neither context nor proof of any sort.  The Cain campaign says it will respond to this latest accusation shortly.  In the meantime, the line of the day goes to Jim Geraghty:

He said I was attractive, and I asked 'how attractive?'  He said, 'on a scale of one to ten, you're a 9-9-9.'

UPDATE - The latest from Politico's Jonathan Martin (!) about the leak blame game.  It's about to get ugly between the Cain and Perry camps:

More breaking news on Cain front - he's charging a Perry consultant as being source of leak, consultant denies. Stand by.

Well, I guess that's what the Cain staffers meant when they told me this issue would be "resolved soon."  A few questions: Um, doesn't Politico's Jonathan Martin -- co-author of the original Cain harassment piece -- know exactly who the source is, and who it is not?  How about clearing up who's telling the truth in this charge/denial dance, Jonathan?  And did the Cain campaign give the scoop about accusing Team Perry of being the leak to Politico?  That seems crazy.  "Hey, you nailed us with a thinly sourced hit piece, so here's a hot scoop!"

UPDATE II - It seems the scoop went to Forbes.  Leak-related details emerge:

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.

UPDATE III - The Cain campaign denies the allegations in the AP story, calling them "baseless."  Related: A different Perry pollster says he worked with Cain at the NRA and never heard anything about inappropriate behavior or seedy allegations.

UPDATE IV - Another allegation of "inappropriate behavior," this time from an evangelical radio host who's been critical of Cain (and especially Romney) in the past.  Via -- surprise! -- Politico:

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.

Could we please hear an explanation of what the "inappropriate" comments were?  Did Cain merely tell a receptionist or two that they were "pretty," or did it go beyond that?  Also, here's a good catch by Erickson -- The Cain campaign is accusing Curt Anderson of being Politico's leak. Connect the dots:

He also knows his former strategist was a Romney guy in 2008 and now is definitely not on Team Cain for 2012. He also knows that Anderson knows about this stuff. And he still can’t come up with a measurable response when the story finally comes out? Even more damaging, I think, is when people tie it all together. Herman Cain’s consultant from 2004 uncovered it in 2004 and Cain launched a Presidential bid in 2011 without coming up with a damage control plan on a major issue that could destroy his campaign?


UPDATE V - Perry's campaign denies being the source of the Politico leak, suggesting it was....Romney.  Did I mention the circus was in town?  Perry backer Josh Trevino has it right: "Cain's people are blaming Perry's people, who are blaming Romney's people. Know who could clear this up? Politico."

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