Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told reporters today that he has “never acted inappropriately with anyone” as allegations of sexual harassment continue to swirl around his campaign.
At a news conference, he addressed the accusations of two former National Restaurant Association employees who have publicly accused him of sexually harassing them when he was head of the trade association in the 1990s. The two women are Sharon Bialek, who came forward Monday, and Karen Kraushaar, who went on the record late this afternoon to the New York Times that she had settled sexual harassment claims against Cain with the association.
His briefing came within an hour of the Kraushaar report.
“When she made her accusations, they were found to be baseless, and she could not find anyone to corroborate her story,” he said. “The restaurant association handled it. They went through a process to get to the point where it ended up being an agreement, not a settlement. “
When pushed on the “baseless” point, he described legal interactions between her attorney at the time and the National Restaurant Association’s counsel, saying, “They came to the conclusion that it should end with some sort of personnel separation or agreement.”
He described watching Bialek’s news conference Monday with her lawyer, Gloria Allred. Bialek told reporters that she had sought Cain’s help in finding employment after losing her job at the association in 1997 and that he responded with “sexually inappropriate” behavior.
According to Cain, the Bialek allegations “simply did not happen.”
“I saw Ms. Allred and her client yesterday in that news conference yesterday for the very first time,” Cain said.
Cain was asked about Bialek’s financial background, an issue his campaign raised in a news release today. “From a common-sense standpoint, one would have to ask if that might not have been a motivation for her being subjected to this,” Cain said.
He also indicated that he believed there were political motivations behind the accusations. “The fact is, these anonymous allegations are false, and now the Democrat machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations, statements, many of which exceed common sense, and they certainly exceed the standards of decency in America.”
He added, “There will probably be others, not because I am aware of any, but because the machine to keep a businessman out of the White House is going to be relentless.”
Cain gave a mixed message on whether he would take a lie detector test. “I absolutely would, but I’m not going to do that unless I have a good reason to do that,” he said without elaborating as to what that reason might be.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.