Custom Search

Monday, October 31, 2011

Really? Is This The Best They Can Do Against Herman Cain?

By Susan Duclos

The Politico breathlessly titles their piece "Exclusive 2 women accused Herman Cain of inappropriate behavior," then proceeds with a four-page piece using multiple "unnamed" sources that supposedly confirm a story about two "unnamed" women that claim Herman Cain, in the late 1990's, had conversations filled with "innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature" and "physical gestures that were not overtly sexual," that made those women "uncomfortable."

On page two of The Politico piece they allege that a "source" with ties to the restaurant association said one of those women suffered "an unwanted sexual advance."

The source said the board member asked the woman directly about the episode and was told that Cain had invited her up to his suite at a prior association event.

Is that the unwanted sexual advance? Really? A quick no thank you deals with that. Thankyouverymuch.

The women received received separation packages and went their own way according to the story.

Even assuming all the unnamed sources are being truthful for a second, the allegations say nothing of touching, no coercion, no pictures, nothing, zip nada, zilch.

After reading the first three pages of this fluff piece, I was left thinking big f*cking deal.

Then comes the fourth page:

Ron Magruder, Denise Marie Fugo and Joseph Fassler, the chairman, vice chairwoman and immediate past chairman of the National Restaurant Association board of directors at the time of Cain’s departure, said they hadn’t heard about any complaints regarding Cain making unwanted advances.

“I have never heard that. It would be news to me,” said Fugo, who runs a Cleveland, Ohio, catering company, adding such behavior would be totally out of character for the Cain she knew. “He’s very gracious.”

Fassler, who helped bring Cain on board as CEO of the restaurant association, said any inappropriate behavior was not brought to his attention and that he would be upset to learn it had gone on and he was not made aware of it.

“That’s a shock to me,” Fassler said. “As an officer during all of Herman’s years there as a paid executive … none of that stuff ever surfaced to me. Nobody ever called me, complained about this, nor did I ever hear that from Peter Kilgore, nor did I ever hear that from Herman Cain.”

Fassler — who ran a Phoenix food-service company and finished his term as chairman the month before Cain’s June 1999 departure but remained on the board’s executive committee — described Cain as treating men and women identically and asserted it was “not within his character” to make unwanted advances. “It’s not what I know of him,” Fassler said.

Much like Fassler, almost all board members remember Cain fondly and say he left on good terms.

Cain was “extremely professional” and “fair” to female staffers at the restaurant association, recalled Lee Ellen Hayes, who said she “worked fairly closely with” Cain in the late 1990s, when she was an executive at the National Restaurant Association Education Fund, a Chicago-based offshoot of the group.

Cain’s treatment of women was “the same as his treatment of men. Herman treated everyone great,” said Mary Ann Cricchio, who was elected to the board of the restaurant group in 1998. She said Cain left such a good impression on the organization that when he spoke at a group event in January of this year, as he was considering a presidential bid, “he had unanimous support in the room.”

Yes, The Politico waits for the fourth and final page to admit that this was such a big deal that the top echelon of the National Restaurant Association board of directors were completely unaware of it. Also on that last page other females that worked closely with cCain described his treatment of women as "fair" and "extremely professional".

Herman Cain's campaign headquarters has released a response to The Politico hit piece:

Inside the Beltway media attacks Cain

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.

Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain’s tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts.

Since Washington establishment critics haven't had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain's ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can.

Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before – a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics.

Mr. Cain -- and all Americans, deserve better.

Cain himself has addressed this issue as well:

“I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain told Fox News in an interview this morning. “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.”

Asked if he had ever settled in response to sexual harassment charges, Cain denied that he had done so, although he acknowledged the National Restaurant Association might have.

“Outside of the Restaurant Association, absolutely not,” Cain said. “If the Restaurant Association did a settlement, I wasn’t even aware of it, and I hope it wasn’t for much, because nothing happened. So if there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other offices that worked for me at the association, so the answer is absolutely not.”

“If more allegations come, I assure you, people will simply make them up,” he added. “I was aware of the false accusation that took place at the Restaurant Association and then when we were asked for me to comment, they wanted it to be from two anonymous sources. We weren’t going to go and chase anonymous sources.”

In a statement from National Restaurant Association's head of public affairs, Sue Hensley, she is quoted as stating "The incidents in question relate to personnel matters that allegedly took place nearly fifteen years ago."


From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) we find that sexual harassment laws do not "prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted)."

Also from the FAQ page:

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.

These women were not fired or demoted, they quit. Obviously anything that has been alleged isn't something that was frequent or severe if the upper echelon of the Association hadn't even heard about it. Other women who have worked with Cain have stated that Cain's actions have "never even bordered on inappropriate in the slightest."

The Politico didn't bother to offer "context" nor the specific nature of the advances other than a supposed offer to come to his room.

So by the very rules which sexual harassment is investigated and prosecuted, absolutely none of Cain's alleged actions as told by The Politico, would have been considered actionable.

With Cain's denial of any wrongdoing and since the settlements did not come from him, this leaves the burden of proof directly on The Politico to produce details, the women and/or actionable harassment claims.

Without that they have exactly what the published, a sloppy smear job on a GOP presidential candidate.

[Update] Despite holding the burden of actual proof, the lead author of the sloppy smear job, Jonathan Martin, has publicly stated "we're just not going to get into the details of exactly what happened with these women." (H/T NewsBusters)