UPDATE- Bluff Called! National Restaurant Association lifts confidentiality agreement with anonymous accuser to allow her to speak about her allegations and …silence.
The statement went on to say that the restaurant association had agreed to waive the confidentiality provisions if the woman wanted to discuss the allegations. Bennett said he and his client “have not asked them to lift it beyond making this statement.”
UPDATE - Ann Coulter and the case against David Axelrod:
Axelrod has a history of using sexual allegation to combat political opponents as does Obama.
Cain worked for decades in many cities, yet all of the allegations come from Chicago where he only visited, never worked full time. First accuser works for Obama and has a history of filing sexual complaints at work places and Sharon Bialek knows Obama’s chief political strategist and campaign manager David Axelrod. Read more HERE!
More Updates Below!
So who did it? In order to explore that question we will need to get in the weeds of DC influence circles. This is a complex story that is going to require close attention to follow.
There are centers of influence in the GOP and they compete for fund-raising, the attention of members of Congress, influence in political circles, generating candidates etc. Two of the most influential and wealthy of these groups are the Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie/American Crossroads group and the Koch Brothers/Americans for Prosperity (AFP) group of which Herman Cain is a strong supporter. Both groups are working to put over $200 million into conservative groups and campaigns for the 2012 cycle.
Mark Block from AFP is Cain’s campaign manager and much of Cain’s staff comes from AFP and their allied groups. Cain’s former spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael was an AFP coordinator in Louisiana. Rich Lowrie, businessman from Cleveland, served on AFP’s board of advisors from 2005 to 2008, wrote much of the 9-9-9 plan.
Other groups aligned in the Rove/Gillespie group are Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies and American Action Network. Ed Gillespie is a former RNC Chairman.
Aside from a conflict of visions and influence, the debt ceiling fight grew a larger rift between the Koch Bros/Americans for Prosperity group and the Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie group.
The case against Mitt Romney in part allied with the Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie group.
“Some Koch allies blame what they contend is the Rove team’s win-at-all-costs mentality for the decay of fiscal conservatism under former President George W. Bush. And they roll their eyes at Rove’s high media profile. In turn, some in the Bush-Rove axis accuse the Koch’s of clinging to free-market zealotry, even if it backfires on Republicans. Others in Rove’s orbit believe the Koch’s are too focused on control and not enough on coordination.”
One political strategist quoted by Politico says that there is a battle between the Rove/Gillespie group’s “Elect Republicans at any cost for Republican’s sake” vs. Koch/AFP/TEA Party who want economic freedom and growth [even if they have to slap around or even primary a Republican to do it].
Some people call the Rove/Gillespie group “the establishment” because of their ties to the RNC and Mitt Romney.
In late August, the party signed a contract to outsource its list management to a new group called Data Trust run by Rove allies Anne Hathaway and Mike Duncan — a former RNC chairman who sits on the board of the Crossroads groups.
Politico May 15, 2011:
The Republican National Committee’s executive committee is set tomorrow to consider a plan to share its treasured voter file with a new, outside organization, bringing into the open a furious dispute between prominent operatives eager to modernize the operation and party figures who fear the move would represent a devastating blow to the weakened party structure.
The proposal – backed by Speaker John Boehner’s top aide Barry Jackson and prominent Republican operatives include Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, as well as RNC chief-of-staff Jeff Larson – would create a new organization, described by two sources as a “trust,” which would hold and improve the party’s list of voters. The improved list would be a resource for the powerful new outside groups like American Crossroads, as well as ideological party allies.
I would like to point out that this writer is on that RNC list. I donated to the RNC and to John McCain. I recently received a fund-raising letter from Mitt Romney that looks very similar to what I have seen from the Leadership PAC’s. I have not gotten a fund-raising letter from any other presidential candidate.
Newt Gingrich has said that there is an “establishment Romney” vs. Non-Romney battle going on and this might be an indicator of it. I know some GOP DC insiders have told me directly that ”there is no establishment” but if the Rove/Gillespie group and at least a chunk of the RNC and the Leadership PAC’s are coordinating unofficially, that makes for what qualifies as an “establishment” in the book of many reasonable people.
Karl Rove spoke reasonably well about some of the problems that Cain has displayed as a candidate, such as the communications team that is not ready for prime time, an apparent near total lack of interest in certain key issues and the lack of any serious state machines on the ground in early primary states. In response Cain went after Rove very hard saying that Karl Rove and his group of “insiders” are trying to talk down and sabotage his campaign. There are many strategists who believe there is some truth to this.
Attacks on Bachmann
There have also been whisper campaigns against conservatives standing against Romney. One of the first whisper campaigns against Michelle Bachmann is that “she is a flake” whatever that means. Fox News’ Chris Wallace did not ask her that question in a vacuum as there are DC insiders, strategists and others who say this for varied reasons. Some because they think it is true and some because they know that she has power due to her media profile and popularity. They wish to diminish her. There are those in the GOP who hate the very idea of the TEA Party movement and believe that the rank and file conservatives should just let the elite pick their candidates for them because they are too stupid to know better. I have talked with too many who have this attitude. In some cases they would rather a Democrat get elected than a conservative from a rival or different group of influence (remember David Brooks and Frum?)
Another whisper campaign against Michelle Bachmann early on is that “she is against the troops”. Bachmann had introduced a Heritage Foundation study containing a long list of possible spending cuts as a bill so that she could answer Democrat/elite media critics challenging her to “name even one specific cut’. Included in that long list was an item that pointed out that certain veterans are double dipping in some federal programs. The Heritage study did not target veterans. It was an academic study that had line items that met certain academic criteria. Yet certain DC insiders pushed the idea that Bachmann was “against the troops” to attempt to make the story stick, which of course it didn’t. Not going over that list to check it for line items that could be political hot buttons was an amateur mistake to be sure, but “against the troops”, hardly.
The First Attack on Cain
Shortly before the sexual harassment story came out some in DC influence circles aggressively pushed a rumor that The Koch Brothers are pushing Herman Cain to make a third-party run. Frankly, either this is true or it is a rumor designed to undermine the Koch Brothers/AFP/Cain group’s influence and fund-raising support, which it certainly would do. Who benefits the most from a story like that?
Attacks on Perry
Rove attacked Rick Perry for his comments blasting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, but what is strange is that Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich all blasted Bernanke before Rick Perry did. Rove also critisized Perry for distancing himself from President Bush.
Within 36 hours after Rick Perry announced, fake patriot web sites appeared on the internet [keep the idea of fake smear sites in mind as you read on] accusing Rick Perry of being an open borders guy. A slick, high production value video of Rick Perry was put out on YouTube with snippets of Perry speeches saying that a fence isn’t going to do anything. The video, which most people reading this blog have likely seen, is a tricked out editing hatchet job. Rick Perry has stated several times that just building a fence provides a false sense of security and that alone a fence is useless without the military using an electronic frontier and predator drones to supplement it. Even the slightly left leaning Politifact.com has stated that Rick Perry has kept his promises when it comes to supplementing border enforcement with personnel and equipment. The story that Perry is soft on the border is a complete red herring. There are people who wish to believe it because it is easy for them to believe that Perry is like Governor/President Bush ‘yet another Texas Governor who is soft on the border’.
This attack on Perry was not only pushed hard on the net, it was pushed to local media outlets as well. It was so well coordinated that as a political communications pro, I was impressed by the flawless implementation of it. There can be no doubt it was planned well in advance.
Why does this circumstantial evidence indicate the Romney campaign as the culprit? The fact is the most DC insiders are likely more sympathetic to the Romney candidacy. Romney has been running for president for six years and has volumous of opposition research and strategy already planned, an example of this was in the debate. When Newt Gingrich mentioned RomneyCare for the first time Mitts almost tripped over himself getting out his cute talking point “I got the idea from YOU Newt”, which of course is a big stretch. There is a monumental difference between participating in a thought experiment at a think tank (Heritage) and actually putting a mandate on the people and creating a system that will blow up because the incentives are wrong. The point is that Mitt has practiced for years in having a cute answer for everything and the kind of preparation needed to orchestrate these smears circumstantially points to his campaign, with or without the help of the Rove/Gillespie group or affiliated loyalists.
In campaign circles Mitt Romney has a reputation as a guy who will say anything. Today Senator Fred Thompson spoke of a web site that the Romney Campaign had set up to smear him.
I have no idea who originated the story. But I’d say that looking inside the Republican family is probably a good bet. I speak from personal experience.
Days after I got into the presidential race in 2007, I was greeted with a website, “PhoneyFred.org,” described in the media at the time as an “anti Fred Thompson smear site.” You couldn’t really tell who was behind it, but we learned of it from the Democratic National Committee, which made ample use of it. We assumed that they had created it. However, a reporter at the Washington Post (of all people) decided to find out who was behind the site. After a lot of effort, she traced it to an executive of TTS Strategies, a South Carolina consulting firm run by J. Warren Tompkins, one of the most notorious hardball political operatives in the country…
In 2007, he was running Mitt Romney’s campaign in South Carolina, where Mitt was behind the rest of us in the polls. Of course, when confronted, both Tompkins and Mitt were “shocked” to learn that a rogue employee (who ran Tompkins’s office) was running such a website (out of the office), and the site was taken down immediately. One of the more benign and amusing things the site accused me of was being a “flip flopper.” I kid you not.
This doesn’t mean that Mitt is behind the Herman Cain hit piece. I’d like to think that he — and his extensive staff, many of them with training in the “political dark arts” — has learned that when you hire the meanest dog in the junkyard, it’s a little difficult to claim that you are surprised when he bites.
We have seen a story from Politico that GOP Pollster Chris Wilson says that he saw Herman Cain make suggestive comments at a restaurant. He says that “everyone was aware of it” yet even according to Politico there are several named witnesses from the National Restaurant Association that said nothing happened. What I find most interesting is that Wilson used to work directly for Karl Rove and yet that little piece of information is left out of all of the reporting. Wilson is also doing some work for Rick Perry.
Getting back to Karl Rove, we are not the only ones who have noticed that he seems to be trying to paint anyone but Romney as “unviable”. This is a piece from Salon.com and while Salon, like Politico, certainly loves to smear conservatives, both do decent process reporting:
Karl Rove finds the non-Romney candidates unacceptable. Karl Rove has already begun his independent, well-funded campaign to return a Republican to the White House. Any Republican will do, honestly, but he would strongly prefer a somewhat competent and “electable” one, thank you very much. So he’s attacking all the non-Mitt Romney candidates, not because he is under the impression that voters care what Karl Rove thinks, but because he knows that the GOP professionals with a vested interest in winning elections care what Karl Rove thinks.
Rove is very much in a “do I have to do everything myself” mode these days, which is why he’s also running the GOP’s congressional campaign as an independently funded venture. Here he is practically acting as a Romney surrogate on Fox and attacking Herman Cain, because actual Romney surrogates seem unable to.
Indeed. While Karl Rove says that Cain is finished the Zogby Poll says that Cain beats Romney. I wonder if Roger Ailes thinks this is what he is paying Karl for.
[Editor's Note - for the record I am on friendly terms with Karl Rove, we have briefly chatted a couple of times and he was very kind and gracious. This is NOT a smear Karl Rove piece as I am sure some will try to interpret it. I am merely providing the best information, analysis, and yes in some parts speculation with the best available evidence.]
The case Against Rick Perry
Curt Anderson is a recent hire by the Perry campaign. He helped orchestrate the defeat of Charlie Crist and elect Marco Rubio. Anderson is good at taking on the establishment and helping “outsider” candidates get elected.
Anderson worked for Herman Cain when he ran for Senate and knew that someone from the National Restaurant Association made an accusation about Cain, most likely the lady who was offended when Cain mentioned that she was the same height as his wife and she took that to mean some kind of sexual reference, or she was looking for a payday. The investigation found that Cain did nothing wrong and she was given a termination agreement and sent on her way [More on termination agreements below].
I find it very unlikely that Curt Anderson leaked this to the Perry Campaign. The first reason is that candidates talk to these strategists and put everything on the table good and bad so they are never caught be surprise. If Anderson broke that confidentiality with a former client his career would be over with a capital O. No one would ever trust him again. In fact the mere suggestion of this by the Cain campaign will likely damage his career.
The second reason is that Curt Anderson writes for Politico as a contributor. That would seem like the “AHA!” moment, but try to look past the surface. Politico denied that Anderson was the source and if it turned out that he was, not only would Anderson have to leave the country to ever find a real job again, but Politico would be virtually destroyed. In spite of how corrupt Politico is and what a lying smear artist Vogel and crew at Politico can be, if they did that the damage to them would be incredible. Anderson said today that if Politico used him as a source they are free to release his name. I will say again that I find it very unlikely that Curt Anderson was the source.
As far as Chris Wilson who is mentioned above and is now doing some polling for Rick Perry. The Perry Campaign would be well advised to find a new pollster. The appearance of impropriety is a risk, and if it turns out that this “sexual harassment” was as innocent as it appears so far (more on that below) both the Perry Campaign and Wilson will have egg all over their face.
A Republican source who was at the dinner in which pollster Chris Wilson says Herman Cain sexually harassed a young staffer is contradicting the account, telling CBS News he never saw Cain sexually harass anyone that night, although he does remember Cain drinking.
“I did not see a lech,” the source said.
Wilson, who was doing polling for the Restaurant Association during Cain’s tenure, told an Oklahoma radio station yesterday: “This all occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City [Virginia] and everybody was very aware of it. And so it is, 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 that she left after this, that it was, it was a-everybody knew with the campaign that this would eventually come up.
Everybody knew huh … And more “everybodys” [see below] who worked with Cain regularly said these things didn’t happen. Is that some egg I see?
The Perry campaign is just getting its position papers ready for prime time. They have not yet done in-depth opposition research on the other candidates and that seems rather obvious although I am sure that they are putting some of their good fundraising to use. The Perry campaign is just not in a position to wage these kind of sophisticated attacks, at least not yet.
Is it a really a smear campaign?
This is the part of the story and the messaging that most people have not put together as of yet. Even if Cain had done everything that was alleged in the Politico.com article it likely would not qualify as sexual harassment.
These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.
Conversations filled with innuendo? Barely a day goes by at any job I have ever had where someone doesn’t have a funny or odd joke or story with some innuendo. Half of the TV and magazine ads you will ever see are laced with innuendo. It is just not harassment. Republicans are mostly Christians, but that does not mean that they are total prudes. Sexually suggestive? That is the definition of innuendo. One persons suggestive motion that is not sexual in nature may be interpreted as sexual by another person. This is why the case-law on sexual harassment is clear that there must be ongoing and sustained behavior that makes it so that the victim cannot do their job.
From the allegations published so far I have personally seen even the very religious Michelle Bachmann tell a sex joke [a good one too] much more graphic than what is indicated here. One would have had to have been the most out of line prude to have taken offense.
One anonymous source said that Cain invited a woman to his hotel suite. Even if it is true it is not sexual harassment. People are free to say yes or no when asked out. If society had puritan [or dare I said Taliban] rules of conduct as implied in Politico’s article no one would have any friends of the opposite sex as everyone would be on pins and needles.
Politico, as well as others have named people from the National Restaurant Association who have gone on the record and made it clear that they never saw Herman Cain say things that were out of line.
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.”
But what about the payouts? This may seem strange to those without legal acumen, but a $35,000 termination agreement, while a tad high, is not any indicator of guilt. I have gotten termination agreements with large companies for thousands of dollars in exchange for not suing them. Many terminations agreements involving professional positions have these agreements. They used to call it severance pay. Paying someone $35,000 is much cheaper than hiring a lawyer to deal with a problem employee and that is just a fact in today’s litigious world. Not only has conservative superlawyer Mark Levin said that this is not highly unusual, Dan Abrams who is a well known liberal reporter and lawyer said on ABC News that the termination agreement really doesn’t mean much.
An issue that cannot be ignored is the timing. Herman Cain has been running for president for almost a year and made his official announcement last May but all of these “sources” decided to hold their fire and speak out at the precise moment when Herman Cain is the biggest threat to Mitt Romney. What a coincidence.
Just like it was a coincidence that Michelle Bachmann was attacked when she was the leader in the polls, and then Rick Perry was smeared when he was the leader in the polls. Newt Gingrich had better brace himself, because right now he is number three in the polls and if he goes any higher guess what will happen to him?
Your party leadership is playing these kinds of games in troubled times. It’s revolting. Some would say that if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. I say that I want to know who it is that is controlling the burner.
UPDATE II: Just the stats as of 11-6-2011 via Law Prof. William Jacobson:
Days as of 8 p.m. Eastern today since Politico broke the story – 7
Politico news stories about or mentioning “Herman Cain“: 138
Politico news stories about or mentioning “sexual harassment“: 91
Politico news stories about or mentioning “sexual harassment” not involving Herman Cain: 0
Politico news stories showing what Herman Cain actually did: 0
Politico news stories showing specifically what Herman Cain was accused of: 0
Percentage drop in Herman Cain favorability rating as reported by Politico: 9
Politico news stories about or mentioning “Solyndra“: 9
Politico news stories about or mentioning “Fast and Furious“: 3
Politico news stories about or mentioning “unemployment“: 17
Politico news stories about or mentioning “recession“: 14
I would like to add -
Number of stories quoting an accuser by name: 0
Number of specific allegations made as far as conduct: 0
Number of stories on Bill Ayers: 0
UPDATE III – Karl Rove says that Gloria Allred adds credibility to Bialek
Wow Karl. Seriously. Either you have motives here or you need to get out of DC more often.