Shall we go by the old rules or the new rules? Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-OH) Senate campaign has highlighted a claim by an anonymous woman that incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) might have sexually harassed or assaulted her in the late 1980s. The Renacci campaign has released a statement from the woman’s attorney, who says the victim has indirect support of her claims:
Rep. Jim Renacci’s Senate campaign issued a news release late Thursday that he said depicted an unnamed woman’s story of an “unwanted and sudden advance” from Sen. Sherrod Brown in the late 1980s.
The release includes a lengthy statement from Laura Mills, a Canton attorney and former Renacci business partner and political donor. In the statement, Mills says the woman told her friend about the encounter as the MeToo movement unfolded. It occurred while the woman was alone with Brown, who was divorced at the time, through her work, Mills said. The friend then contacted the Renacci campaign, which referred the woman to Mills, the statement says.
The statement does not provide a date, a location, supporting evidence or identify the woman, but describes her as “a very credible source and a professional woman.” It comes a day after Renacci told reporters and editors with the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’d heard from “multiple women” with abuse allegations against Brown, while providing no additional details or supporting evidence.
The statement from Mills suggests that she has received multiple complaints, with just one of the women authorizing her to go public with it so far. The allegation describes an assault, “roughly pushing her up against a wall,” from which the woman claims to have escaped by “defus[ing] the situation” (via Twitchy):
— Jeremy Pelzer (@jpelzer) October 19, 2018
Under the old rules, this would require more than a little skepticism. This woman just so happened to reach out to Renacci’s law partner, huh? To describe a physical assault from 30 years ago just a few weeks before an election, when Brown has been running for statewide and federal offices since 1983, when he first won the Secretary of State position? Stories like these that emerge right before a vote would normally be considered a smear without really solid proof, and for good reason.
Brown and his team clearly want to play by the old rules, at least now:
“Just hours after a cease and desist was sent to Jim Renacci informing him that if he chose to continue making unsubstantiated and false claims about something that never happened he would face legal ramifications, now Jim Renacci’s former business partner and friend, in coordination with Renacci’s campaign, has put out a statement with nothing more than further anonymous and unsubstantiated claims,” said Brown campaign spokesman Preston Maddock. “Pure and simple this is character assassination by a failed and desperate candidate who every day reaches new lows. This will not be tolerated, all legal means will be pursued against Jim Renacci.”
Of course, those were the old rules. Under the new rules of the Kavanaughcalypse, the accusation is enough. Who needs substantiation and direct corroboration? Believe the women rather than test the evidence? For Sherrod Brown, those new rules looked pretty tasty just a few days ago, as Spectrum News DC reporter Taylor Popielarz reported over the weekend:
On Brett Kavanaugh:@SherrodBrown says he opposed Kavanaugh based on his record, before Dr. Ford went public. He says he believes Dr. Ford and thinks the Senate rushed the confirmation.
"I don't know how the Senate does it differently."#OHSenDebate
— Taylor Popielarz (@TaylorPopielarz) October 14, 2018
After all, a Senate election isn’t a court of law — it’s a job interview. The burden of proof is on the applicant, right? Wasn’t that the argument from Brown’s colleagues two weeks ago when Brett Kavanaugh got blindsided by unsubstantiated and vague allegations of alleged incidents from 30-plus years ago? After Democrats sat on them while they could have been investigated quietly and professionally, and then leaked them out to the press a couple of weeks before the vote on his confirmation? Why shouldn’t we believe the women when it comes to Sherrod Brown?
Quite frankly, I prefer the old rules. They not only did a better job of getting to the truth, they discouraged last-minute smear attacks rather than incentivizing them. I’m happy to apply the old rules to Sherrod Brown in this case as well — and to argue that Brown has disqualified himself for office by abandoning due process and fair play.
I suspect that Brown won’t be the last Democrat to get torched by the fire they set to those values in attempting to intimidate Kavanaugh into withdrawing. But I will welcome the strange new respect we get for due process out of it and the end to the neo-McCarthyism that they have immeasurably boosted. We warned them about the Kavanaughnsequences.
Update: I agree with Jazz, at least for now:
Despite my previous hashtag joke, this story stinks on ice. Were it not for the treatment Kavanaugh received, this wouldn't be worth a headline. https://t.co/6sgYOhPR4I
— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) October 19, 2018
Yes, it stinks, mainly because we’re not getting any substantive corroboration before publicizing the allegation. We may still see that from this woman and others, but it should have all come out at once or not at all. However, this is the Brave New World pioneered by Dianne Feinstein and her fellow Senate Democrats, Sherrod Brown included. They set up these incentives, and now they are seeing why we warned them about it.