Uh oh: Witness found to Cain incidents?

posted at 1:25 pm on November 2, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

So far, neither of the two alleged complainants from Herman Cain’s tenure at the National Restaurant Association have come forward publicly, although it appears at least one would like NRA to release her from her confidentiality agreement to do so.  However, a pollster who worked for NRA at the time told KTOK in Oklahoma that he witnessed both incidents — and that if the women talk, Cain’s candidacy would be over:

Interviewed today on KTOK’s Mullins in the Morning, [Chris] Wilson, of Wilson-Perkins-Allen Opinion Research headquartered in Washington, D.C. explained he was a witness to the incident.  “I was the pollster at the National Restaurant Association when Herman Cain was head of it and I was around a couple of times when this happened and anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time, knew that this was gonna come up.”

Wilson described the woman as a low level staffer who was maybe two years out of college.  “This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it,” he continued.  “It was only a matter of time because so many people were aware of what took place, so many people were aware of her situation, the fact she left—everybody knew with the campaign that this would eventually come up.”

Wilson claims that he also can’t discuss the specifics, for legal reasons.  I’m not quite clear as to what that might be.  He may have signed a broad non-disclosure agreement with NRA to get the polling work, but if that’s the case, he just violated it with this statement today.  Unless he also participated in the settlement/severance agreements with the women, he’s as free to discuss the details as the fact that he witnessed them.  And it’s difficult to see how Wilson would have been involved in a settlement between NRA and the two employees.

However, Wilson isn’t only linked to NRA and Cain from years gone by.  His firm has conducted polling in this presidential race for the Make Us Great Again PAC.  And guess which candidate is favored by MUGA-PAC?  Why, none other than … Rick Perry.  The PAC has no formal connection to Perry’s campaign, but it’s certainly boosting Perry as the Republican nominee in the primary.

Could Wilson be more than just a witness in this story?  Could he be a source?  It could just be a coincidence that a witness to these alleged incidents did work for an organization pushing Perry, and that the story mysteriously got to Politico as Cain took support away from Perry in mid-October.  If he is the source, then conducting an interview on the topic has to be one of the dumber political moves I’ve seen.

Update: Some are saying that this indicates Romney as the source of the leak, but I’m not terribly convinced that a one-time donation means much.  Romney has less to fear with Cain as his main opponent than others in the race, and besides, no one knows whether Anderson ever knew about the incidents at all.  Other board members say they didn’t.  YMMV, however.

Update II: There have been plenty of developments that we have covered in other posts, but this development should be noted here:

Wilson emails THE WEEKLY STANDRD: “To be clear, and you can ask any of the reporters covering this story, I had nothing to do with leaking this in any way, and I’ve never discussed or shared this story with any of my clients – period.”

I’m pretty sure Politico won’t confirm or deny on any speculation on sources, but Wilson’s denial should be noted on this post.  However, John McCormack notes that Wilson has another indirect connection to the Perry campaign:

But pollster Tony Fabrizio, who was Wilson’s boss at Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates at the time of the alleged incidents, was hired by the Perry campaign in October.

Although Wilson claims that “anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time knew that this [incident with Cain] was gonna come up,” Fabrizio says he didn’t now that Cain was accused of sexual harassment.

“Our firm worked for the NRA prior to Herman Cain’s ascendancy there, during his presidency, and even for a little bit after that,” Fabrizio tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “But I was never witness to any of what Chris is saying, or at least what I’ve read as the account of what he’s saying.”

But did Wilson ever tell his boss about any of these incidents or allegations? “No, not that I recall, no,” says Fabrizio.

We’ll see.

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