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WASHINGTON — Herman Cain, whose popularity as a presidential candidate has soared in the last few weeks, faces allegations of sexual harassment stemming from his time as CEO of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Politico reported the political bombshell Sunday night, stating that two former female NRA employees "complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures."
Cain told Fox News late Sunday night that they would have to call the NRA if the media wanted to know more.
On Monday morning, Cain's chief of staff Mark Block told MSNBC that Cain had "never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story."
Cain is now a big target: Bloomberg reports that as of October 31, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain is in a statistical tie with presidential hopeful Mitt Romney with Iowa Republicans. Of likely caucus participants, 23 percent support Cain and 22 percent support Romney, which is within the margin of error.
No comment, no investigation: Sue Hensley, senior vice president of public affairs communications for the National Restaurant Association, declared in a press release on Monday morning, "The incidents in question relate to personnel matters that allegedly took place nearly fifteen years ago. Consistent with our longstanding policy, we don't comment on personnel issues relating to current or former employees."
Politico contacted Cain's former head of human resources at the association, Mary Ose, who also shows no hint that anything happened. "When pressed, Ose, now retired and living in Arkansas, said she never heard any hint of a problem with Cain and female association employees. 'No, none,' she said."
Yes, there was an investigation: But Cain himself declared that there was indeed an investigation. At the Nation's Press Club today, Cain stated that he recused himself of the investigation and that he let the then-human resources director and the association's general counsel handle it. "I was falsely accused of sexual harassment," he emphatically stated. He added, "It was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis."
Allegations similar to Clarence Thomas hearing? Town Hall declares that this smear campaign against Cain is like the Clarence Thomas allegations in 1991. However, the Christian Science Monitor writes that this time around is different in that these allegations have been investigated and should have a paper trail as opposed to the explosive but undocumented allegations against then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
Accusers identities known: Politico confirms that it knows the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who claim sexual harassment, but will not publish their names.
Opinions (care of TheWeek):