Herman Cain may have hoped to put to rest the allegations of sexual harassment and impropriety in his press conference yesterday afternoon. Instead, his accusers will raise the stakes in their own joint press conference, in which they will detail their complaints. Attorneys for the two women who have gone public confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that their clients will meet with the media soon:
The women whose complaints Herman Cain attacked in a news conference Tuesday are planning to counter with a news conference of their own, attorneys for the women said Tuesday night.
“My client has decided to hold a joint news conference with as many of the women who complained of sexual harassment by Herman Cain as will participate,” said Joel P. Bennett, the Washington lawyer for Karen Kraushaar, whose harassment claims against Cain got the current controversy rolling after a report of it appeared last week in Politico. …
“We will advise all media in advance of the date, time and location of the conference,” Bennett said in the email to The Times, noting that he had already been in contact with Bialek’s attorney, Gloria Allred, to discuss the news conference.
Allred confirmed that in an email to The Times: “I said I would recommend it to my client, and I think she would want to participate, but I have no details yet and have not had a chance to discuss it with her,” Allred wrote.
The strategy for the two women will be to present their cases together, so that they can establish a pattern of behavior from Cain and bolster their own cases in the process. That will become more difficult for Cain to defend, especially if one of the other anonymous women who filed complaints decide to go public and join them. I’d guess that Allred and Bennett are working to expand the roster for the press conference for that reason, so don’t be surprised if Sharon Bialek and Karen Kraushaar end up sharing microphones with more than just their attorneys.
However, Kraushaar may have to explain another complaint she filed in her next job to defend herself from being painted as having a pattern of her own, as the Associated Press discovered last night:
A woman who settled a sexual harassment complaint against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain in 1999 complained three years later at her next job about unfair treatment, saying she should be allowed to work from home after a serious car accident and accusing a manager of circulating a sexually charged email, The Associated Press has learned.
Karen Kraushaar, 55, filed the complaint while working as a spokeswoman at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Justice Department in late 2002 or early 2003, with the assistance of her lawyer, Joel Bennett, who also handled her earlier sexual harassment complaint against Cain in 1999. Three former supervisors familiar with Kraushaar’s complaint, which did not include a claim of sexual harassment, described it for the AP under condition of anonymity because the matter was handled internally by the agency and was not public.
To settle the complaint at the immigration service, Kraushaar initially demanded thousands of dollars in payment, a reinstatement of leave she used after the accident earlier in 2002, promotion on the federal pay scale and a one-year fellowship to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, according to a former supervisor familiar with the complaint. The promotion itself would have increased her annual salary between $12,000 and $16,000, according to salary tables in 2002 from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
The later complaint didn’t directly allege anyone of sexual harassment, although it did include mention of the e-mail, which turns out to be a joke that was “widely circulated on the Internet” about the differences between men and women cast in computer references. The main body of the complaint concerned the refusal of INS to allow her to work from home after her accident, which forced her to take leave and lose seniority that counts toward promotions. Kraushaar told the AP that other employees had been allowed to work from home and that she filed the complaint to get fair treatment, but ended up dropping it for unspecified reasons.
She knows how it looks now, though:
The complaint at the immigration service was “nobody’s business,” Kraushaar said, because it was irrelevant to her sexual harassment settlement with Cain years earlier. “What you’re looking for here is evidence of an employee who is out to get people,” she said. “That’s completely untrue.”
They are two separate incidents, and two different kinds of complaints. A judge likely wouldn’t admit one as a defense against another in a court proceeding, as they would not be relevant to each other. Still, Kraushaar isn’t pursuing her claim in a court — she’s apparently going to pursue it in a press conference, trying to win judgment in the court of public opinion, and the public will have a very different idea of what’s relevant and what isn’t.
I’d assume that the Cain campaign will look through the backgrounds of these women and publicize anything like this they find. Cain and his team certainly did that with Sharon Bialek. However, after last night’s fiasco with Mark Block claiming “confirmation” that Josh Kraushaar was Karen’s son and that he currently works for Politico — both false — why should anyone take what the campaign says seriously anyway?